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Let Nothing Lie Dormant

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At the farmer’s market in Rosarito, Mexico,
a man touched my arm.
He sat on a stool at a wooden table,
and in the center,
a blue pitcher of water beaded under the sun.
Hunkered over his lap,
he worked with a gouge on a block of walnut,
and he blew at the dust,
and the dust swirled in the breeze.

Done stripping the sapwood vulnerable to rot,
the man held the heart of the wood,
a purple wood hard against
the chisel’s cutting edge.
He looked up from his work,
and his gray eyes told me I must listen.
“This wood must be strong
or the heart cracks before the real work is done.
See this?” he asked softly,
and he lifted a mallet carved
from a branch of apple, “Strong wood,” he said.
“It wanted to be more than a tree.”

He rubbed fresh walnut dust between his palms.
We drank glasses of ice water,
talked about life in general,
and he used the pitcher,
billowed and wet like the sail of a boat,
to cool his neck.

Later, through the soft meat of an avocado,
I felt the pit longing to be free.


David Dominguez, “Let Nothing Lie Dormant” from Work Done Right. Copyright © 2003 by David Dominguez. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.
Source: Work Done Right (University of Arizona Press, 2003)
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Let Nothing Lie Dormant

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  • Poet David Dominguez earned a BA in comparative literature from the University of California at Irvine and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Arizona. He is the author of the collections Marcoli Sausage (2000), published in Gary Soto’s Chicano Chapbook Series; Work Done Right (2003); and The Ghost of César Chávez (2010).
     
    A resident of California’s Central Valley, Dominguez writes poetry that reflects life in the area, often focusing on work and family history. Rigoberto González elaborated on the importance of place to the collection The Ghost of César Chávez, noting that the Central Valley is “a place where generations of Mexican families have lived, worked and witnessed periods of both economic hardship and prosperity.… Dominguez pays homage to a different fruit of this labor: the hard-won comforts of domesticity and the impulse to reflect on the legacy of sacrifice.” Dominguez’s poems have been published in...

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