Heartwood

The inspector came back and said There is a live tree root growing in the middle of your crawl space and someone will have to dig to trace which way it grows out into the yard, then cut it. I know such growth won’t be rapid, but that unchecked it will crack the concrete foundation, lift the posts from the earth, tilt the beautiful polished floorboards away from the beams. What I want to know is what kind of tree, even if I already know not camphor, not eucalyptus, not acacia, not pine.

*

Not eucalyptus, not pine, not the branches that rattle our dreams at night. Flying to San Francisco, I see the thick indigo nets of cloud beyond the window, and a single gash of bright orange where the light pushes through before it sinks. Evening star, says the mother to her fretful child who pulls at his ears and is about to bawl. Oh wait, that’s another plane. How many mistakes did early explorers make, tracking the oceans for routes to gold and spice? We are always mistaking one thing for another but it’s alright: I make a wish anyway.

*

I make a wish though I believe in love and work more than in superstition. But I will bathe your limbs in oil of eucalyptus and water where cinnamon bark has steeped. I will bring trays of eggs and my petitions to a chapel where nuns in pink habits kneel day and night in prayer chains. I have slit the skins of sacrifice and danced on coals on orders of the gods. O beloved in this inscrutable universe, do not let the demons of distrust dissuade. Pitch your strongest root beneath the dome of heaven: not even the four winds could uproot you.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Conceivable.

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Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What Is Left of Wings, I Ask (forthcoming, 2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

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