Wednesday Poem

Maradona in Buenos Aires

He was a squat, curly-haired, pug-nosed man,
and he walked into the high-end asado restaurant
with five beautiful women and his manager,
the infamous Coppola, who father said, had led
Diego into “drogas.” I often wondered how
a man who could handle the pressure of a World Cup
could be led into drogas—but my father would
become enraged on this point, especially after Diego
laid in state at the Pink House, light blue and white
flags keeping the multitudes at a respectful distance
from the decrepit, bloated body of the soccer king.
I once approached the man himself, feigning I spoke
only English, so as to garner more respect, and
asked him, Coppola translated, to sign my used
airline ticket, a readable scrawl, and I went back
to our table, gave my father the ticket; he smiled
the forced smile of the ungrateful, and I took
another bite of a steak the size of South America.
There were poor faces pressed against the windows
of the restaurant, young men, boys, peeking in
to see Maradona, to ogle this ferocious little man
who was pressured into drogas, who scored a goal
with the hand of God to take the World Cup,
who single-handedly placed a backwater Italian town
centerstage, and who famously came from nothing,
de la nada, as if a man could come from nothing,
as if a player this great could ever be led to do
anything, to be anything less than boundless.

by Alejandro Escudé
Rattle Magazine, 11/29/20