Self-portrait as Sisyphus

Trudging back toward the depths,
in that brief space of awareness,

I am assailed by charred smells
of salted meat and roasted corn;

and again, I feel the tug of my
hungers: I want to make room

for something other than fate.
I’ve gotten so good at hoisting

the burdens— my shoulders are worn
to the blade and my physical therapist

shakes his head, pronouncing me hopeless.
Natura naturata, wrote Spinoza: Things

happen only because of Nature and its laws.
In the valley, someone is setting off

fireworks. Dogs chained to fences startle,
send up the jagged froth of their voices.

They know it isn’t nature that’s tethered
them from their own nature; perhaps

they want to crest the hill I climb so often.
And like me, keep going. To never come back.

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 (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, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

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