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And Now, A Word from
the Ghost of Eva Perón


Poetry by Priscilla Atkins



So, you think you want to live forever?

Oh, I did too. Once upon a time.

But let me tell you.
Sometimes the worst thing that can happen
is for a wish to come true.

I guess this story starts with me—
and Pedro Ara.
Doctor Pedro Ara.
A professor of anatomy in Madrid.

They sent for him after my first “false coma”—
God, when was that . . . June of ‘52?—
Anyway, he was sent for,

and he lingered in the corners
of hospital corridors,
so at the moment of my death
he could start in on me—
just like that!

Finally, July twenty-sixth,
he got his chance.

First, it was a quickie—only
enough to make my body
“incorruptible”
to be viewed by the masses.

Then, I was ensconced in my own
suite, so to speak—three white rooms.

Days, weeks, months—over a year—Dr. Ara
and his faithful sidekick, Pepe,
toiled over my every need.

You know, after you die, they change—
your needs,
that is.

Apparently mine
now included a slit in each heel
and one just below my neck
to drain every last drop.

Then, I was injected with glycerine.
And dipped in a chemical bath.

(They plopped the coffin lid
on top of me—to make sure
I didn’t splash.)

Well, once wasn’t that bad.
But it went on for weeks, months.

Bath—Injection—Bath—Injection.

I’ll give them this—they didn’t

touch my brain,
or any other organ.

Finally, my skin was sealed
in plastic.

In mortuary terms,
I was Art Nouveau.

And, like most art work,
there’s just a few rules:
a temperature below 25 Celsius,
if you please—and NO direct sunlight.

I’m sure you’ve heard:
In this condition,
Eva Perón saw the world.


And a few crummy closets
and truck beds in Buenos Aires
I might add.

Jesus, even when you’re dead,
you can’t escape politics.

The new regime didn’t know what
to do with me;
so finally they shipped me off to Europe
where for seventeen years
I was hidden in a secret grave in Milan.

Then, poof—Juan (oh, I mean, Perón,
La-Vida-por-Perón
)
lands in exile outside Madrid,
and he sends for me.
(I think it’s that little strumpet Isabel’s idea
as much as his.)

Politics you know.
Argentina’s in trouble,
and it’s Evita to the rescue.

Well, geeze. When they opened
the coffin, you’d think they’d seen
a ghost:

“Look at her hair—it’s all wet
and muddy!”
“What did someone do? Take a crack
at her forehead?”
“And, the neck—it’s slashed!”

But Dr. Ara chimes in, “N-n-no—
it’s just a little scratch
in the plastic. Tut-tut,
we can fix it.”

So, once again, it’s time
to visit the hairdresser’s—
get that chignon just right.

A little dash of nail polish,
and I’m ready to go.

Only, Juan and Isabel end up
stuck in their little Spanish villa
for two more years.

And where does that leave me?
You guessed it.
In the attic.
Madwoman, or Goldilocks,
take your pick.

Then, in 1973, Perón (and Isabel—
and their dogs) return, triumphant
to Argentina,

while I cool my heels in that attic
(I guess they didn’t want to pay
the extra freight)
until he dies—less than a year
later.

And, to make a long story
short, what with a coup here
and a coup there,

I’m flown home
(don’t cry for me Argentina!)
displayed again,
hidden again,
and FINALLY (it’s 1976,
if you’re keeping track),

I’m buried with the hoity-toity—
those wealthy oligarchs I was always
trashing—up in Recoleta Cemetery.

And just to make sure
I stay put,
my coffin is buried
under a trapdoor
under two other coffins—

and, you know what?
That’s just fine by me:
this girl’s covered enough ground
to last a lifetime.



§ § §


Priscilla Atkins' work has appeared in Epoch, Good Foot, Southern Humanities Review and other publications. She has lived in various places, including Los Angeles and Hawai'I; currently, she is an arts librarian at Hope College, in Holland, Michigan.

Reprinted from Ink Pot #6, available now

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