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You Tell Me You Want to Live Close to Nature by Joan Mazza

You Tell Me You Want to Live Close to Nature

by Joan Mazza

(published in The Mark Lit Review, August, 2021)

You plan to have acreage, a garden, pots with herbs

on every windowsill. You’ll have a dog and cat

or maybe two of each, and wildlife will gather

on your property, a sanctuary. How lovely

the fantasy of back-to-the-earth, the simple life.

I plant basil seeds in handmade flowerpots painted

with dragonflies and flowers, with potting soil I store

in the garage. The mice have other plans. They carry

birdseed from one side of the garage to the sack of soil

that now grows sunflowers no matter what the packet says.

They leave piles of shelled seeds and corn kernels between

the bookcases. Fleas and ticks must surely view me

as a god who provides for all their needs. The squirrels

breed and breed and leave their droppings, population

increasing with my generosity. My neighbor’s cat

kills a bird a day for lunch, leaves feathers on my porch.

It’s thirteen miles to the nearest supermarket, an hour

to malls and theaters. Far from the main road, no traffic

noise, but when it snows, I can’t get up my driveway’s hill.

Howling dogs on the adjacent property inform me

they’re cold and underfed. That cozy woodstove you envy

is ravenous for logs encased in ice when the power goes out.

The possum isn’t afraid of anyone, and the skunk knows

what to do. My poodle scares off herons and wood ducks.

Sighting a bear, she’s a city dog. She doesn’t have a clue.

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