Nostalgia as the longing to be elsewhere

I know the kind of exhaustion
you spoke of at breakfast that morning,
as we passed plates of bread and cheese
and fruit around the table, and cup
after cup of strong black coffee.

The rain had not yet fallen hard,
though it was predicted. The salt
in the skin of cheese gave way
to the mellow note at its center,
and we married it with jam

and real sugar and cream
instead of milk because such things
when you can have them are precious
after all in this short lifetime.
And I wanted to say yes, I know,

I know that kind of loneliness,
the one that stays anyway, long
after the gleaming embrace of cities
turns to wreaths of dirt and smoke,
the way it is for immigrants

and dreamers when they first step
on land after having been at sea
for weeks or months; the way it is
when a dream has been held so long,
against the longer onslaughts of time.

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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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