Refuge

by Esteban Rodriguez

When they knock, we duck, hide
behind chairs, tables, the couch,
cram saliva and sentences back inside
our mouths. And when they knock again,
eager with rehearsed verses, pamphlets,
we tense our limbs, backs, stay silent
’til their silhouettes scythe the curtains,
’til the porch moans beneath their pious
steps, the way I imagine a porch,
at this moment, bearing the weight
of certain men: officers, agents,
uniformed shadows who search
the premises, hoping something here
yields a cache, or at least a man,
a woman, someone like my father
or mother, who, after crossing the border,
stumbled, fatigued and wet, toward
an abandoned house, praying, once inside,
that as the wind began to mimic voices,
their bodies wouldn’t be tempted
to make a sound.

Esteban RodrĂ­guez is the author of Dusk & Dust (Hub City Press, 2019). His poetry has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, New England Review, Washington Square Review, and Puerto del Sol, with new poems forthcoming in phoebe, TriQuarterly, and Blackbox Manifold. He lives with his family and teaches in Austin, Texas.