by Esteban Rodríguez

They came around like lost dogs looking for a place to rest, prickly, small, tangled on the splintered planks of oak; a summer diaspora spit from the horizon’s bleeding mouth, where they wandered up the steps of our front porch. There was no movie-bounce or wind, no cowboy, crickets, no symbolism not already known, their wobbly stride scraping the mounds of blistered dirt, because our yard was just as dry as them, shriveled stiffly like our skin. Football fields away, they’d rise and huddle into clusters, forged by the heat in just the right frame, that I’d think of them as the devil’s knuckles, still digging through the limbo he’d been buried in, while I sat buried further in this blaze, collecting all the tumbleweeds inside my head, balling them up one by one, until I built the family of snowmen again, parched replicas of my father, mother and me, all standing in the center of this scene, like mannequins out of some Manhattan project; our faces smiling at the melting sun, waiting for the mushroom cloud to blow our way.

ESTEBAN RODRÍGUEZ is the author of the poetry collections Dusk & Dust, Crash Course, In Bloom, (Dis)placement, and The Valley. His poetry has appeared in Boulevard, Shenandoah, The Rumpus, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. He is the Interviews Editor for the EcoTheo Review, an Assistant Poetry Editor for AGNI, and a regular reviews contributor for [PANK] and Heavy Feather Review. He lives in Austin, Texas. You can find him on Twitter @estebanjrod11.