Maintenance

Mostly I feel uncomfortable explaining
what I’ve done with this thing they call
my life: the choices I’ve made, when
at the same time I wonder how much
real capacity anyone ever has
to choose. This morning I pull
a haphazard rake through stiff grass,
collecting dry pine needles in a heap
then stuffing them into a plastic lawn bag.
They fall at random, not choosing.
The theme is always, always existential.
So eventually I give up.
You can tell from the abrupt
meeting of clean and unkempt
edges marking property lines
which homeowner seems to believe
it’s possible to assert control
within what’s called the domicile:
from the Latin domicilium,
from domus, “house;” in law
“that residence from which
there is no intention to remove,
or a general intention to return.”

I make a game of tossing fallen
pine cones in a heap at the base
of the crepe myrtle. Like everything
else, in time, won’t they also
disintegrate, matter illustrating
that impulse to go back to some
previous state? I don’t feel
criminal for not owning a leaf-
blower, for sometimes choosing
not to choose too hard.

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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