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Jessica Guzman

Jessica Guzman is the author of Adelante (Switchback Books, 2020), winner of the 2019 Gatewood Prize. She lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. .

By This Poet

1

Predictions of the Material

Before the wick rejects
the flame; before the glass salts
the waters, or the rental en route
to your funeral stalls, I worry

the dog isn’t getting enough sun,
& it is midnight but we step out
anyway onto summer’s chow

tongue. Clouds extend the glare
of lightning far off. Before phlox
heads drop, the dog sinks
the anthill gathered full & quick
at the ceiba’s trunk. Nothing swarms

his leg or the river he pisses
into the heart like a god, no arthropod
island, no insect bridge of grappled
spurs. Before sunrise, I turn

a burner high in anticipation, olive oil
dollop ready to smother the pan,
when a moth plummets to the blushing
element. Wings immediately

charred. Let me tell you,
more than once in a parked car
I’ve held the searing buckle
to my chest—before drivethrus,
before driveways, drivel down

philtrum; before the beach, crushing
indistinguishable mounds
in bare feet, a horse conch’s crown

tearing skin. Even anaphora
can’t coax the future. You said, Ay mija,
are you crying again? before dusk
revealed the hook in the pelican’s beak.