The 2River View 25.1 (Fall 2020)

Mario Duarte

Come on Home, Old Woman

            What can an old man say?
Life is short and death long,
worry an endless smack.
            She once loved me ... but that
            doesn’t matter. Does it?

            Our lives were hell. Blue flames
scorched the pillows at night.
Owls flew over our roof.
            She once held me so tight
            I woke up yelling. Scared.

            Death is the seducer,
cold hand killer. She grabbed
my wife’s hand—old, wrinkled,
            wide, blue-veined, and lifted
            my old woman, beyond.

            For weeks, I cried. Visited
her fresh grave. The tombstone
was pale pink granite,
            her choice. I had no choice.
            I talk to her daily.

            Old woman, please, come home.
I am lonely—walk empty
echoing floorboards.  Webs shoot
            along the ceilings. Dust settles
            on thunder rattled panes.

            I am dying.

Under the Big Top

            On the high trapeze, my muse,
a ruby sequined light-arrow
            forever falls after the miss.
Our audience stands, screaming.
            Because of her cruel bravery,
            she foreswore the safety net.
Across the sawdust, she crawls
            receding from the spotlights. 

            The orchestra stops blurting.
In circles, a trick pony snorts,
            then gallops wildly into mist.
Our skeletal ringmaster gawks.
            But why? the jugglers murmur.
            Clown tear apart their muu-muus—
their white, dripping stage make-up
            exposes their soft, rosy skin.

Mario Duarte is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His work has appeared in Bilingual/Borderless, Chicago Literati, Lunch Ticket, Pank, Pilgrimage, and Typishly. New work is forthcoming in Rigorous and Write Launch.

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