Late One Night

I rolled out of bed, slowly / Crawled across a potato / chip ridden carpet,

Late One Night
Photo by Krista Mangulsone / Unsplash

By Mario Duarte

         I felt a toothless gum
On my leg. Help! I cried
         Into the deadly night
But no one heard me, oh yes,
         Or worst—no one cared. 

         When I reached down,
My leg had vanished, as if
         painlessly erased. My hairs
Stood on end like steel wires
         Stretched taunt by magnets.

         I rolled out of bed, slowly
Crawled across a potato 
         chip ridden carpet, every
Crackle a wince, then I felt
         A stab in my last leg, lord!

         Then, that leg was gone, how?
So with my arms I pulled
         Myself across the room,
Barely closed the door behind me,
         Breathless in the tar dark hallway.

         I called the police. Told 
The desk Sargent what happened
         But he laughed, told me
To Uber home, sober up,
         Sleep it off. I hung up.

         I called an ambulance, 
And as I explained my blight,
         Both arms disappeared 
With a sudden snip, the call lost.
         I waited for help, prayed.

         I crawled and wiggled,
Like an earthworm in rain, out 
         The patio door onto freshly
Cut grass, the scent overwhelmed me, 
         The dew clung to my belly.

         Then, believe me, I felt
A bite, a slicing off my spine, 
         I passed out and woke up
To my torso cut neatly divided
         Into two halves, barely alive.

         I felt the light draining
Out of my eyes, the blurry stars
         Rippling closer, but I knew
I was done, time, a closing lid, 
         And I yelled one last time.

         It leaped into my mouth, 
Whatever it is, and when I 
         Swallowed everything returned—
Legs, arms, even my torso
         Felt knitted back together.

         I was whole, like never
Before. When the paramedics
         Found me siting on the steps,
In no pain, they cursed, shot off,
sirens blazing, taillights bleeding.

         In the morning, I woke up
Expecting missing pieces but
         Only some hair came out
As I raked my fingers over my skull.
         I laughed, cried, and shook.

         I am not crazy. Listen: it
Was not a nightmare either.
         I share my story so that 
If it ever happens to you, know
         This, you can survive!

         The only thing, although, 
Is sometimes when I look
         At myself in the mirror
While shaving, well, something 
         Else stares back over

         My shoulder, something like
A blob, a splotch of shimmering
         Blue light, something not
Of this world, anchored by me, 
         Both of us whole now, one.

Mario Duarte is a Mexican American writer. He is an Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate who lives in Iowa City. His poems and short stories have appeared in Arkana, Emerald City, Ocotillo Review, Red Ogre Review, and Rigorous, among others.  Recently, he published a poetry collection To the Death of the Author and a short story collection My Father Called Us Monkeys Growing Up Mexican American in the Heartland will be released soon.