“Oh to count the stars in the sky!
How many should we count for just one to be moved?”

~ from “Guest Songs,” An Anthology of Chuvash Poetry, trans. Peter France

If you’ve ever opened the door
to a haze of smoke draped
over the entire town—

If you’ve ever decided not to worry
that in the night, someone has taken
down your house numbers—

If you’ve ever placed the seed of a hot
pepper on your tongue just to feel
how a small thing burns—

If you’ve ever kept back something
amounting to the best part for the best
that was supposed to come—

If you’ve ever grit your teeth
through the deepening pain shooting up
your right leg and hip at night—

If you’ve ever tried to quiet an aviary
of the moment’s most insoluble problems
set loose in your chest—

If you’ve ever curled your toes or
clenched your fingers while reciting
a prayer or spell inside your head—

If you’ve ever woken in the early hours
to the hard clear sound, the flinch
of metal rung on metal—

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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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