“El Tiempo Pasado,” “To the Double Flower of Spring” and “I was a Jesus Impersonator”

Issue 40 by Mario Duarte

“El Tiempo Pasado,” “To the Double Flower of Spring” and “I was a Jesus Impersonator”

El Tiempo Pasado

Leaving Work

The shrubs are flush—branches scarlet

by the red brick dormitory.

Rolling past Hickory Hill park

leaves blaze into miniature suns.

At Home

In our backyard, the swing set is

as empty as a hollow gourd,

a small childless yellow slide

that slips beyond our son, and us.

On the lawn, fallen leaves curl, dry,

deeply embracing. Stray whiffs of

smoking leaf piles flare nostrils

despite the keep of our moist palms.

My head is heavy with sleep, dreams,

while I read a poem in Spanish.

My eyes have forsaken darkness,

but my feet ache to float away.

Postscript:

Downstairs, in the kitchen, you chat

with a long-distance friend;

there’s a buzz like Abuela’s ghost

whispering caution in my ears.

A boxelder bug crawls across

a setting sun framed by a pane.

Father of small tears, will she cry?

Into ash, her face blazes, ash.

To the Double Flower of Spring

(for C B-D)

Although you die, you do not die,

your eyes are bright like blue pebbles

swallowed by pale handkerchiefs.

You are the soar of ocean waves—

fierce song and cry of the sirens—

long eyelashes flickering sunlight.

Beyond reason, I walk under

bruised dusk, and ask the widening sky

for more, double flower of spring.

In April, your lively footsteps,

your honest words swell the spaces

between the twitching minute hand.

Heart-shaped face, the lion sun roars,

blasts over our bodies from a time

pulsating stars were newly born.

Into time, our names sky rocket

into the white between blue lines,

rise from ancient stardust, entwining.

I was a Jesus Impersonator

dressed in brown leather sandals

and a sack cloth when I encountered

another Jesus impersonator dressed precisely

the same way—we strolled past each other, irritated,

while tiny lizards sunned on the rocks.

Listen: dozens of crows were clamoring

atop the treetops surrounding a sea

of white crosses while a blue patch

of sky dispatched angry, ultimately violet

clouds that failed to notice me discarding my clothes.

Relaxing, in my sunglasses, steamy

with heat rising from the hot tub,

suntan lotion wildly tickling

the delicate hairs of my nostrils, I barely registered piano

keys that splashed like Koi tails in a pond.

I thought of hope—that empty excuse

that crumbles before winter when the miles

of dune waves churn over themselves,

and the sky closes as gray as a coffin lid, something

even a Jesus Impersonator cannot bless.

About the Author

Mario Duarte

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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, Lunch Ticket, Pank, RavensPerch, Rigorous, Storyscape, and Typishly.