La Liturgia de la Telesita

4 12 2008


Part I – Mythos

Like firefiles, the living and the dead walk through the silent streets. Even the dogs wander, those mangy pelts of hunger, without stars in their eyes. It is said that Benicio and Asuncion began to love each other that night and not before. There were some who had found each other between song and strong drink, those who had lost themselves between so much forgetting. But if that night was remembered, it was because of that girl, that enigma. She came forth from the mountain, squalid, like a harpy. Who was she? Where did she come from?

Guitar, fiddle, and drum played deeply. She always danced alone, though men who would accompany her were never lacking. They would resort to all sorts of flirtations, seeking an intimate encounter. But the girl looked at no one, as if there was no one else could dwell in her pain. Bathed in moonlight, she danced barefoot; tirelessly. They offered her drinks, but she refused them. The space became dance before the magnetism of her body. It was weighed down in densities as if about to rain. At some point in the evening, the moon was no more, the lanterns went out, the musicians stopped playing, heavy with strange sensations, a coldness and a flame in the chest burning without ever going out. Sweet ghost, how can you not love those wounded feet that kept moving in the silence, possesed by their own rite, an angel fallen in saltpetre.

“Mishquila” – someone called her with tender tears.

But even that word sounded excessive. A strange communion was that one, around the moving shadow now without music, without moonlight, weaving amongst the snoozing dogs. “Who is she?”, they were still asking. The men fantasized about penetrating her sweetly by the riverbank, drowing her in sublime honey. The old women said, “She is the Virgin of Churqui”. They cried, “pray for us, sinners, now and in the hour of our death.” Suddenly, she was gone. It took them a while to notice, to finally snap out of their trance. Where was she going after not having eaten, after all of that dancing? Without having uttered a word to anyone, where was she going? The old women sighed, “We’ve seen a miracle”. O Virgin, our help. The young women chanted: she did not come from heaven, but from earth. They were wet between the legs, who knows why. They grabbed their men and headed to the river to put out their desire. The musicians began to play again.

“My sugarcane is hard,” Benicio mumbled.

And Asuncion, daughter of the foreman, kissed him. She was from Chanar Sunicha, and had arrived just the day before.

They spoke much of that girl. Both the titles of ghost and Virgin suited her. But she was only a poor abandoned madwoman, God knows from where. Some had seen her before wandering on paths in the badlands. In her gaze there was only emptiness, deserts without end.

-Adolfo Columbres, from the novel, Viejo Camino del Maíz, found in Cultos y Canonizaciones Populares de Argentina by Felix Coluccio. My translation.



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