The Spectacle

A man and his daughter
wash up on the river mouth.
The man envelopes the daughter
with his uniform. 
Even nullified he understands
spectacle: together, in repose,
they form a whelk.

A complete deck of bones
crammed into purse
markets the purse. 
The bones are nameless
and therefore without price. 
Unless coupled with the purse. 
Unless the purse rejects a hex
like girasol or milagros

On a path through the border’s hairline
a little boy has no name. 
Not metalmark.
No nutria. 
Not cyclops. 
Handcuffed, he is transmuted
into an object of care. 
Beaten, an object of indignation. 
Yet still an object. 

Objects can be stacked like cordwood 
into a hot rig. 
Assigned a single bottle of water
and a corner for relief. 
The door of the rig makes magic:
one moment, nothing.
The next, a taxidermist’s shop. 

Some nameless objects become
priceless in death. 
Death follows and is also marketable. 
A logotype designed by refugees
sells in clenched teeth. 
The shirt that signals virtue
sold cheap at the rosary. 
The price of a man wrapping
a shirt around his daughter:
            her sound
                        her shape
                                    her diminishing size.


Copyright © 2020 by Rodney Gomez. This poem originally appeared in New England Review. Used with the permission of the author.