Ernesto in the River
The Amazon River separates
the healthy from the lepers.
Ernesto’s white shirt glows
in the jungle’s humid darkness.
At 24, he throws the shirt into the night,
a wild flag of surrender
and dives into
the Amazon’s wet void. Arms fling
wide, graceful wings through
water, between asthmatic gasps
for air. Behind him, the nuns
and doctors scream, Come back,
it’s too dangerous. You’ll die!
What good are those
who aren’t willing to touch skin
or spirit. Ahead, the lepers cheer,
Go, Ernesto! You can make it!