Testament

— Rodney Gomez

Today is not a lacquer
            scaling every bone.

Wherever there is nothing
            there is probability of light.

I name terror for what it is
            and what can be born
in the refugee’s heart:

            today not the first body
gunned down in the river’s house.

Not the last body
            submerged, taking into its lungs

the lungs of all others
            who’d escaped smoke.

The river is nameless
            because, in the world,
it has so many different names.

I trace my child’s face
            with my hands
to set a ward against what I know
            is charging towards us.

Made of desert, we are
            contingencies in this country.
We are told to move out of the way

            or be remade. I warn her
there is nowhere to go

            except the light: make
a pillar out of anything,
            every good deed is arsenal.

I gift her the pitfalls of my past
            and she hides them, knows

that something will grow
            from the old voice eventually,

even if only a fist
            unwilling to injure.


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