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Esperanza

—Mario Duarte

Esperanza

                                                                                     turned into a chicken—

                                                                                                   no longer sad.


                                                                                                  When she laid an egg,

                                                                                     I was the hatchling.


                                                                                     When she said “I love you,

                                                                                                  watch me fly” she flew.


                                                                                                  I never saw her,

                                                                                     again and pops, well,


                                                                                     that old coco, ran off

                                                                                                  with another bird.


                                                                                                  Abuela said I

                                                                                     looked like her—I liked


                                                                                     her off kilter face

                                                                                                  staring at me in photos.


                                                                                                  Almost 18, I left

                                                                                     after Abuela’s funeral.


                                                                                                  All the flowers there

                                                                                     made me puke. I woke up


                                                                                     in a strange country

                                                                                                  working a forklift in


                                                                                                  a shampoo factory

                                                                                     where I felt dirty.


                                                                                     One night walking home,

                                                                                                  the moon, a burnt orange,


                                                                                                  I felt a wing on

                                                                                     my back. I screamed,


                                                                                     turned but there was no

                                                                                                  one there, nothing.


                                                                                                  In bed, I chewed on the ends

                                                                                     of my long hair,


                                                                                     raven and radiant like

                                                                                                  hers was and dreamed


                                                                                                  of her pecking out

                                                                                     my eyes leaving


                                                                                     holes in my head, gaps

                                                                                                  I am falling through


                                                                                                  even now, on a morning

                                                                                     disrupted with endless


                                                                                     light crawling back,

                                                                                                  searching for our shadows.



About

MARIO DUARTE is a Mexican American writer who lives in Iowa City. He is an Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate. His poems and short stories have appeared in Arkana, Bicoastal Review, Muleskinner Journal, Ocotillo Review and Rigorous, among others. In the past year, he has published a poetry collection, To the Death of the Author and a short story collection, My Father Called Us Monkeys Growing Up Mexican American in the Heartland.

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