Sergio Reyes | BROKEN WINGS


The night sparkles in couplets,
doodled in an ancient script.
Rhymes and question marks
sear the horizon
rise and fall
then disappear
the outlines of the trees.
They’re trying to tell us something.

I rush into the night.
It’s so dark.
Even my shadow
doesn’t follow
my overalls
and bare feet
racing down the dirt road
past the anthill,
pig pen,
and the well.
Unseeable landmarks,
but I know where they are.
Never looking down,
my eyes follow
the sparks
and their vanishing whispers.
We want to know their secrets.

They’re everywhere.
I jump and jump
and higher
with outstretched fingers,
but the sparkles float
flashing and fading
in arcs and zig zags
out of reach.
I’m too short to touch them.

My cousin punches
into the night
and snatches a fist full of light,
rubs her fingers across her chest,
presses them against
her arms, her shoulders
and her hair.
Her upper body glows.
She combusts with laughter.
Electric wings carry her toward
the call of the frogs
under the stone bridge.
Streaks of light fade into the darkness,
and her laughter dips into the night.

More of them appear,
sparkling like the magic sticks
my grandfather rubs
to light the firewood stove.
What are they looking for?
How do they glow?
Where do they hide?
How can I glow?

I give them chase
running across squishy ground
under barbed wire fences
through huisache brush
whose thorns
slash my knuckles and wrists,
through rows of corn plants
slapping my face,
bundling me
in their limbs
as I push through,
accost the night, race
beyond the borders
of my memory’s landscape.
I’m so close now.
They’re there.
I just know it.
Their secrets are under my nose.

I leap for the sky
with outstretched hands
and land face-first in slop.
The wind stops chasing me.
I look up, breathless;
watch them flicker
in cursive script.

The Milky Way and a million stars
are looking down at me blinking.
I open my fist,
find a curled up black ball,
crushed wings and limbs,
but there’s
no magic powder,
no heat,
no fuse or sparks.
It looks like a dead kitchen fly.

I smell it now.
The hooves and wet hay and caca de vaca.
I hear my cousin’s laughter in the distance.
She can read and write.
She says the fireflies
speak a different talk,
an ancient tongue,
like Nahuatl or bird-talk.

A shooting star flashes
across the sky and vanishes.
How do I shine?
Teach me to read and to write.
How will I glow?
I didn’t mean to kill you.

Author’s Bio

Sergio Reyes is a world traveler, dancer and technologist by career. He studied Japanese literature, modern and classical, at Stanford and Harvard universities and began taking Method Writing workshops, led by Jack Grapes in Los Angeles, several years back. His first published poem appears in the 2019 spring edition of the Paterson Literary Review.