legends of the falls

a sign posted at the entrance
cautions overweight children
to avoid the footpath
at the base of the falls
where the little men 
los duendes
dressed like stoplights
in their yellow caps
red smocks and green boots
snatch the ones 
who can’t run fast enough
and drag them to their caves
to dine or to be dined upon
no one knows for sure
since they’re never seen again

poor swimmers the sign adds
should steer clear of
the falls themselves
lest lulled by the soothing songs
of the little ladies with fish tails
las sirenitas
they are pulled 
to the silty lake floor
where mothers
in houses of clamshell and bone
tuck in their children’s tails
and tell them bedtime stories about
the hairy scary creatures above


(originally published in Red River Review)

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