Maternal Villanelle, with a line from Eliot Khalil Wilson

“I fear the natural
aptness I have
to any cross.” ~ D. Bonta

Beauty is the way we are broken
what price to pay, to leap over obstacle
after obstacle, bringing proof of our devotion:

for isn’t that what’s required, especially of mothers?
We waited outside schoolroom doors, exchanging notes
on every beauty that would be the way we were broken.

They said it would be harder for those who didn’t
really want to compete. Soccer? Ballet? Spelling bee?
Every triumph and trial, supposed proof of our devotion.

I wasn’t the type who wore suits or pantyhose and chokers,
or knew my place, or did not complain. Though I was made
to understand beauty was the only way we were broken.

But there were other sources of breaking: they hurt
because their lights burned brighter, out in the world
beyond the merely domestic, where sacrifice was devotion.

To this day I ask myself if there were choices
that could have made some things easier;
but we love beauty and beauty is the way we’re broken
—this is how we’ve proven our devotion.


In response to Via Negativa: Kenosis.

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

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