The exile no longer feels the desire to return

Of the one who left, they might say:
If you were better, you would return
to clean paths overgrown with knots,
porches leathered by mud and rain.
It doesn’t matter that neither
the houses nor streets exist anymore:
still, they will demand you find
the only plumber in town willing
to work with the puzzle of ancient
pipes. It’s immaterial that only air
and spiders gushed out of the taps,
that ivy climbed out of the well
and old appliances affixed their
thin ghosts to the walls: there
is where the refrigerator stood;
and there the halo from the stove,
the seam in the floor from the sewing
machine. But the one who left doesn’t
know how to find the junction before
the first migration, can’t remember
the four-number combination to spring
the catch from the lock. Most travel
anyway is inward these days: so much
back country, all sorts of weather,
pockmarked terrain. You wonder what
the first ones in space might have felt,
turning so as not to look too hard at
the centerless dark. Yesterday,
a driveway lit up by the moon; today,
rain’s faithful eraser hard at work.

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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