weeps over the humid air at twilight,
a shallow creek meanders across town,
while small, white butterflies dissolve into
terminal nothingness—a cicada husk
clings to the bark ridges of an old oak.

This is his most human address; this is
his undisturbed getaway—yet extinction
underlies the umbrellas of mushrooms,
until the last one awake switches off the lights
when footsteps echo down hollow streets.

Overhead cloudy smoke swirls, shrieking
something like a fast train—all he can say is
te amo, te adoro, and the chime
of the clock tower rings like a drunken
illusion, a vibrating spider web.

His reaction to his predicament is
to forsake his realidad—to forsake
his double, his shadow, and his footsteps
past the dusty window pane—there some staring
mannequin half-squints at him—half-dressed.

Tonight, he retreats like a shrunken eye,
his face ashes and his legs wobble
under his weight—when will he stumble out
of the achy void that whispers his name—
when will he swim the waters of forgiveness?

Mario Duarte lives in the UNESCO City of Literature, Iowa City, Iowa. He is an alumnus of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of New Hampshire. His poems and stories are published in Carnival, MadisonReview, Slab, SteelToeReview, OddvillePress,Storyscape, and others.