I bought a house last summer, and I’ve been caught up in the moral questions my so-called ownership entails. This narrator mixes up her ownership with her stewardship; no, you do not own the light, but you do bear some responsibility for what it lands on and how you transmit it to others.
To own this land?
How wind passes over it—to own that. Sun, to own
its heat—or how rain considers, addresses, redresses this ground—
to own the shapes wind makes in these trees. And the view of trees,
my neighbor’s trees, my other neighbor’s trees,
in winter the trees beyond the road there. . . To own
the grasses in their varied gait over the ground, leggy
or sidelong, their seed, the birds which come to feed on that seed,
to own seed and trees and feathers that fall here and yes, each flight-path
over my land, dove’s down-dropping swoop from my pecan tree. . .
Deeply, too, to go and own the water that flows below—no,
I don’t own the water. But bones, I own those:
tender outline of baby rabbit laid down and earthed in. And roots,
deep tap of pine, twine of maple, and the fungal web between.
You too, now: to own the long glance you give or take
(will it be give or take?), how it drapes and sleeks and seeks
over my wild rose, through my poison ivy, across the worn stump
of my Leyland cypress, following the blue flash of that bird that’s briefly
mine. My land: I eye it from windows looking east and west where my sun rises and my sun sets. To own the light of the moon, that too,
her lumen laid over flagstones in my front yard.
Lightsey Darst lives and works in Durham, North Carolina. She has published three books of poetry with Coffee House Press, most recently Thousands (2017). She has received fellowships from the NEA and the Minnesota State Arts Board. She is trying to grow a meadow.