12 El valiente – Esteban Rodríguez

Sometimes, the story had your uncle
in the middle of the driveway, chest puffed,
knife in hand, cursing at the pair of men
who had just tried to break in his house.
And sometimes, the story had no men
at all, but instead a family of possums,
starving and rifling through the trash.
And in this version, your uncle wasn’t
brandishing a knife, but a broom,
or at least a dustpan, and yes, he cursed,
but it was near his door, protected
by the certainty of a porch light.
And when this is told by your aunt,
when she says she couldn’t stop laughing
at him from the comfort of her couch,
you can’t help but still think of him
as brave, that your uncle, having crossed
into this country in the dead of night,
knew what it felt like to face a darkness
that seemed to be whispering his name,
that tempted him to come closer,
that wanted his body to enter its folds,
and to believe that when he fully entered,
then and only then would he be safe.
Esteban Rodriguez

Esteban Rodríguez is the author of the poetry collections Dusk & Dust, Crash Course, In Bloom, (Dis)placement, and The Valley. He is an Assistant Poetry Editor for AGNI, and a regular reviews contributor for [PANK] and Heavy Feather Review. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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