November 29, 2020

Alejandro Escudé

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.

from Poets Respond
November 29, 2020

__________

Alejandro Escudé: “The death of Diego Armando Maradona is a momentous historical occasion for my home country of Argentina. He was a towering figure in the world of soccer, a true sports icon. His life was one of great controversy, his notorious behavior on and off the field, his battle with drug abuse, his strained relationships with close family, friends, owners, coaches, players, and fellow countrymen became legendary. It was a strange serendipitous night when I had the luck of meeting the soccer star. Yet, what I remember most was those arguably pathetic faces on the restaurant windows, crowding the panes to see Maradona. They were there the entire time my family and I were at the restaurant. Maradona was powerful and gifted and beloved by people all over the globe, especially those on the lowest rung of Western society.” (web)

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