Palm-sized fliers, along Avenida Santa Fe
in Buenos Aires, advertise Belén, her phone number,
24 hours, air-conditioning: Independiente.
Her photo shows a thirst trap in a string bikini.
Who is Belén? Does she live in Villa 20 Lugano,
with her Bolivian grandparents, widowed mother,
and three teenaged daughters, in a two-room,
third-floor, shanty-town apartment?
Who is Belén? Does she canvas the Recoleta
neighborhood for recyclables with her aunts, where bins
near the cemetery and cultural center yield bounties,
and where she organizes female cartoneros?
Who is Belén? Does she teach migration and nation building
to sheltered American undergraduates, as a local adjunct
for a study abroad program? Does she research and write
about sex-workers, and have a toddler at home?
Belén fliers stuck on bus stops, basura bins, electrical units
in Palermo, just outside the gates of the Jardín Botánico,
a green oasis of ginkgoes, poplars, laurels, and jacarandas.
Does Belén ever venture inside?
Susanna Horng is a Clinical Associate Professor in Global Liberal Studies at New York University. Her work has been supported by a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship from New York Foundation for the Arts, and has been published in Minerva Rising and Bennington Review.