Refugee Body (published in NDQ 84.1/2)
If I could speak from the afterlife, my first words would be:
the sea is harsh and unforgiving
and I would tell you
leave this city of tanks and guns—and everyone
we’ve ever known.
Our church will fill with soldiers.
Women will scream. Men will weep. Our child
will die in your arms.
You could not protect us. I would tell you
when they came for me, my love,
it was like the wind
rushing through an open door and up the stairs—
and put a thunderbolt into my throat—and without a thought
for the approaching season of the ceaseless rain
which will pour over the roof into the gutters and down to the dock
only days after you leave.
I first saw all this in a dream. I told you then
when we were cupped together
in our bed that you would be leaving
in a crowded boat,
cold and shivering and all alone,
crying on the shoulder of some stranger.
I see you now
sick and lost,
riding the fever down after the storm has taken you
this far and no more. And I see how
the world remembers us—
like a full moon reflected in the wake of white water—
once here, now gone.
Lois Roma-Deeley’s fourth collection of poems, The Short List of Certainties, won the Jacopone da Todi Book Prize, and was published by Franciscan University Press in 2017. Her previous full-length poetry collections are: Rules of Hunger, northSight, and High Notes (a Patterson Poetry Prize Finalist). Roma-Deeley’s poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, nationally and internationally. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and CASE named her Professor of the Year, Community College, 2012. Roma-Deeley is the recipient of a 2016 Arizona Commission on the Arts Grant. Visit her website at http://www.loisroma-deeley.com.