Outside Utica by Pablo Otavalo


The bruise of sky behind shoulder-high cornstalks,
perpetual halogen sunset, the last trace of city lights
beyond the horizon. We came for the heron, the Perseid
meteor shower, the lightning bugs. One kiss from eloping,
letting cicadas officiate vows to the Milky Way Almighty, carried
away on the sweet reek of topsoil, milkweed, and sumac. Ours
the clover field behind the Cattail Inn, ours the empty road
from here to Ottawa, ours the nightjar calls
from the woodland’s edge, and ours the Little Dipper
claiming the northern sky.
In the morning,
outside a pizza parlor that served coffee till eleven, we sat
on a pinewood bench, squinting into the sun, before us
a wall of corn, beside us vacant storefronts, and a cloud of dust
and gravel chasing a truck like a mutt.


PABLO OTAVALO is from Cuenca, Ecuador, but now lives and writes in Evanston. A recipient of the 2013 & 2014 Illinois Emerging Poet prize, his work has recently appeared in RHINO, Jet Fuel Review, Structo Magazine, Ninth Letter, Helicon, Tupelo Press, Sourland Mountain Review, and Glass Poetry Journal. He’s an avid chess player. He can be found at pablootavalo.com.