Volume 69, Number 1 · Fall 2019


First he lets it dangle, swings it
by its tail. Then, when the snake rises,
hisses and slithers like fog between
the rocks, Lalo lifts the lid, lets
the mouse drop, and waits for
“nature to take its course.”
And I think of Eve, temptation,
I think of cousins, like Lalo,
whose lives are centered on knives,
ninja stars, serpents. And I think,
as the hissing grows louder,
and the mouse scurries to the corner,
of my father at the river, watching
the wind scrawl its language
on the water, wondering,
if just beneath the oil-colored
surface, there’s a snake waiting,
ready to strike. And though my father
never speaks of his crossing,
pretends there was no life before
and beyond that border, I picture him
dog-paddling to the edge, spitting
water from his mouth, and ignoring,
as best he could, that something
that grips his leg, that promises,
with each squeeze and pull,
a reward his body shouldn’t refuse.

Esteban Rodríguez is the author of the collections Dusk & Dusk (Hub City Press, 2019), Crash Course (Saddle Road Press, 2019), In Bloom (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2020), and (Dis)placement (Skull + Wind Press, 2020). His poetry appears in the Gettysburg Review, the New England Review, TriQuarterly, the Rumpus, 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.