Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 14 . . .

At the Tail End of Dusk Inn

     by Sergio A. Ortiz

          "And down the fitful breeze the numbers flung,
                  Till envious ivy did around thee cling." — Sir Walter Scott, Our Lady of the Lake

As a child Reneida was like tap water
scurrying through our fingers.
She grew to become a beautiful woman,
lips in constant bloom,
a stare that made you rush
to find a maid of honor.

She went hungry so many nights
it came as no surprise when her father announced
her marriage to the eldest Villalobos,
owner of At The Tail End Of Dusk Inn.

We counted the months and scratched out greed
as the real motive for the marriage.
She gave birth to a baby boy
twenty-four weeks after the wedding.

I got caught in one of those leaf storms
that make you want to use a cilice belt
at Sunday’s confession, when she begged
I baptize her son.  The day Reneida and I took
the child to church for the sprinkling of water
a runaway car covered me in dirt.
I looked back; Reneida was in a puddle of blood,
eyes fixed on the baby, and a smile that made you think
she had slept with Ricky Martin.
She saved the child but died soon after.

Villalobos sold everything he had.
He wanted my godson, Luis, to starve,
to never find anything to help prop him up,
to never learn to walk.  That way gravity
would pull him closer to gloom.
He gave me the boy when there was
nothing left of his estate.

I kept a photograph of Reneida
in Luis’s bedroom so he could see
the conquered moon in his mother’s eyes.

Sergio A. Ortiz grew up in Chicago and San Juan Puerto Rico, studied English literature at Inter-American University in San German, Puerto Rico, and philosophy at World University. He was an ESL teacher most of his life but he has also worked with the elderly blind population as a Daily Living Skills Instructor for the El Paso Lighthouse for the Blind, and the Texas Lions Camp.  His work has been published, or is pending publication, in Ascent Aspirations, Cause & Effect, The Battered Suitcase, Yellow Medicine, Shipwright, Ballard Street Poetry Review, and over three dozen other journals, magazines, and anthologies.

© 2009 Sergio A. Ortiz