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Renaldo

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His face- masked in white paint
smeared from streams of sweat,
shaded by a wide-brimmed hat
with feathers and flowers
and gray as the smoke rising from his cigarette,
years removed from fervent adoration-
is unfamiliar.
The last remnants of his past incarnation-
his eyes, piercing some would call them,
blue as Maldives water,
bright as the stage lights centered on him,
transparent-
he would mask them too, if he could.

A Hohner, firmly fastened into its silver harness,
placed around his thin, pale neck,
transforms his breath into a wailing ‘G’
that spills through the microphone.
His frail fingers strum the first soft notes
of a song written for his wife, Sara,
a silhouette stripped of mysticism,
now as weak and translucent
as the ghost standing before her, a man she used to enliven.
She sits, compliantly, in the front row,
for the last time, they would both soon realize.

His eyes, the only feature she can recognize,
stay fixed on hers, sad and swollen, as his voice, a rolling thunder,
sings to his former radiant jewel, his muse no longer,
builds towards the final line, a plea he is weary from repeating,
“Don’t ever leave me, don’t ever go.”

Those blue eyes- which once looked at his wife
gleaming, filled with more life than the Indian ocean-
dim with the stage lights,
as the harmonica fades to a quiet cry.
They part from hers, drown in resignation,
and sink to the floor.



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