and the boots of abandonment—stare at the holes in the bare walls—their chalky white insides exposed. What comfort is there for the deserted? Those imprisoned by love—those that tend the steel shafts inside their chests.

How does one live with empty rooms and one pillow left on the bed—absence clinging to every door knob? The sickeningly sweet scent of hyacinths in the vase overwhelms the senses, leaving me exhausted, and mortally aware.

Last night, I dreamt I was an ant barely crossing the dusty floor. Each tile square blackened by existence. What did the hawk on the highway marker see when I bypassed yesterday—a fatigued mind—my ant eyes rolling off?

The elms shed their seeds—their paper-thin seed coats already yellowish and wrinkled like old men and women. Moreover, to the red Buddha on the mantle, I speak of the sky, thirst for rain until his serene face resembles a droplet.

Mario Duarte is a Senior Academic Advisor at the University of Iowa and a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His poems and short stories have appeared in aaduna, Chicago Literati, Hinchas de Poesía, Huizache, Pank, Steel Toe Review, and Typishly. More work is forthcoming in Lunch Ticket and Pilgrimage.