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Vows and Other Memories from the Islands
by Sergio Antonio Ortiz

On the day of the dead, Pablo put his pants
on one mummified foot at a time. It wasn't
his fault, rain was the true culprit. Clouds
followed his feet for years, poured whenever
he tried to cut bread in the City of Glass.
His soles started to crack, sprouting roots.

Julia entertained on the balcony levitating
her intimate secrets. People on 42th Street
attributed her faculties to a santero visiting
her family the day she was born. She stood tall
and elegant like the mountains to the south,
Pablo's home. Her face had all the traces of pain
coming from islands.

They married. Julia, carried down the aisle
by daisies, bleeding into a gutter in the city;
Pablo, one mummified foot at a time, closer
to banging pots and starvation. They are gone
but I keep their marriage vows to read outloud
to read on the day of the dead.


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