The Death of the Last Encantado
Once the river had its fill of miracles, he washed up
on shore and could no longer become a man.
He clicked and lifted his fluke but it wouldn’t split
into legs. A ribereña recognized him by his sadness
and the scars on his back, his nearly visible history.
She touched the dolphin she’d made love to as a man
when she was sixteen, shy, and full of disquiet. Years ago
he'd knocked on her door selling novel wonders — lockets,
apples, French kisses. At her insistence, he pulled her dress
to her hips and used his tongue to write untranslatable
Sapphic gospels between her thighs. Where do you think
you’re going? she asked. To what home? Toward which love?
But his untransformed body didn’t respond. She walked
the streets wailing and striking her calves with a bullwhip,
announcing the death of the last encantado. As the clouds
ripened, we went weeping to collect him, remembering
the slow millennium of post-coital untwining, the water
from his hair baptizing our necks and navels and knees.
The howler monkeys joined in with their ministry
of pleasure and anger and fruit. The forest was alive
with it, the story of the love we’d made. We placed him
in a canoe with his hat and our kisses, imported apples
and lianas, rosaries and fishhooks. His love was
as impersonal as it was perfect, and now it is the tide.
His body rocked toward a future we could not see.
The hollow he left in the riverbank swelled with rain.about the author