Antonio, who went crazy, used to come to our house
on fried chicken Sundays.
Smelling of Old Spice and pinto beans
he’d talk about Mexico and a family
that danced on his tongue and floated blue above us
like the smoke from his Camels.

He made it sound like a fair and money you find in the street.
And he told it like carnival callers
talking fast on the midway.

So why did he leave I asked my father once.
But I never got an answer, at least not one I remember.
Still it was there in his eyes  
when Antonio and my father
would dismantle the past over
Pabst Blue Ribbon and hazy Julys.

Until it wasn’t Mexico they were talking about anymore.
It was something thinner than that,
something light as the dew on the mint,
past the road and the corn that waved lazily like old ladies in bonnets
looking up from their gardens.
They were swatting at fate as if it were a housefly.
And I should have seen that.
The weight that they carried as easy as sweat
as if it were something they could chase out a door.

Sometimes there is no reason
why barn swallows never fly straight or why we are born brown.
But soon it is July
and the thread that we hold breaks away for a few.
So Antonio went crazy and didn’t come around anymore.
My father sat by himself
and the days just went on.
by Gil Arzola
Gil Arzola's work
has been published
in Whetstone, The
Tipton Review,
Elysian Fields, and
Grasslimb. He lives
with his wife in
Valparaiso, Indiana.