“Cosmic Sadness of a Teenage Girl Crying in the Shower”

~ after Natalie D’Arbeloff; 2018, Boxwork, mixed media 11″ x 11″ x 7.5

Oh yes that’s you: scabbed,
acne-scarred, awkward as hell,

tongue-tied even just answering
the telephone. And nobody seems

to understand the exquisite
loneliness of checkerboard tile,

the smell of old polyvinyl
chloride shower curtains, chipped

blue enamel in this bathroom
where you retreat at least twice

a day. You let thin arrows
of scalding water rain down

your chest and shoulders,
breathe in the steam that lets

the hurt you’ve been hoarding
in your lungs escape at last—

pfffft. You rub yourself
raw with a pumice stone, soap

on skin afterward another penance
before the rinse. You already know

how it comes down to the body,
how it comes down to rituals

we’ll make for softening more
than flesh: but only later without

judgment, with kindness, before
going back into the world again.

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.

7 Replies to ““Cosmic Sadness of a Teenage Girl Crying in the Shower”

  1. Luisa, I’m very moved by your poetic attention and response to my boxwork and so happy that it inspired you. Thank you so much, I’m waving to you in friendship across the ocean.

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