I love you, anonymous citizen*

standing dignified in your threadbare coat
at the wintry intersection of City Hall
Ave. and the exit of the mall
parking lot, holding up

a cardboard sign that reads Thank you
for any help for the homeless
, a rucksack
at your feet filled with what might be
your only worldly possessions—

And I love you who peered at the man
behind the wheel inching slowly forward
toward the barrier: you, random stranger
who recognized the violinist playing
months ago near midnight in a cafe,

ice and dirty snow piled outside
on the sidewalk and all the people
crowding indoors for beer and wine
and warmth, no one really listening—
But for you, the music issued

from the wood, strings that pulled you
out of yourself into a time and place
before this one— And I do not know
the story of your particular
impoverishment, nor the list

of who or what you may have lost
and how; but it is my purse
and every last unlined pocket
of my heart that fills
when you pull out the few

creased dollar bills you have
and thrust them into the hands
of someone who made for you,
for us, one night sometime ago,
a little space wounded with beauty.

* ~ with thanks to my youngest daughter G. for the line that reeled off the rest of this poem


In response to Via Negativa: Funny tastes.

Posted in

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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