In Uruguay the Rio de la Plata
changes chameleon-like from brown to blue and then
an afterthought of sea green
as tides move up the estuary and Atlantic water
freshens the flood like a sea breeze.
All along the Rambla as young couples jog and ancients promenade
light winks in and out of clouds shaped like bright animals
and the river stretches past the horizon
in a backdrop of pearl, of turquoise, of emerald and plankton-bloom of blue.
Shuttered mansions squat behind rusted iron fences or crumbling brick walls
their hulls empty of human voices
chimneys nests for cormorants
gardens thickets of scrub pines and shattered eucalyptus
where deadly coral snakes trace their cold paths.
It is not that the past is forgotten
but that it hardly exists except on the periphery:
an empty casino with turrets of an old castle
like a story you once heard as a child
and were frightened by
and now no longer care to recall.
Michael Hogan is an expatriate American living in Guadalajara, Mexico. His poetry has appeared in the Colorado Review, Ellipsis, New Letters, The Paris Review, and Sin Fronteras, among others. He is the author of 14 books; most recently, Savage Capitalism and the Myth of Democracy: Latin America in the Third Millennium.