Vita Brevis

What they say of beauty
is that it never makes apology
for itself— But isn’t this true
as well for plainness, for calamity,
for sorrow, for disappointment?

Here is a jar of coins
I’ve rescued through the months
from coat pockets, from the lint
trap in the laundry, from the folds
and linings of our purses.

What can you buy with a roll
of pennies these days, with a hand-
ful of crumpled bills? Come then, let’s lay
the good china on the table, the silverware,
the napkins; let’s feast on what we have.

I used to draw up columns in a ledger:
for every purchase, a sacrifice
forestalling each small pleasure
for the days— I rue now how
I used to only say don’t get

too happy: don’t rest, don’t choose
the window light, the comfort of the armchair
with the pillows; don’t put the little sweet
into your mouth. Too dear, too rapidly,
the dwindling days don’t know delay.


In response to Via Negativa: Sacrificial.

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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 (forthcoming, 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, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

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