What to think of a pause

“And God is more beautiful than the road to God. But those who travel don’t return from a wandering… to be lost in another wandering.” ~ Mahmoud Darwish

Even as it sputters, it’s hard to still
the mind’s overworked engine— to nudge it
inside a cove or clearing where brush fires
aren’t also raging. Inside a little room,
who is holding vigil and praying
their loved one won’t pass away yet
or after all on their watch? At the bottom
of the hill, a few old signposts
creak in a slight wind— one bearing
the rubbed-out letters for “bar,” the other
for “apothecary.” When you get to the center
of town, there isn’t any flying buttress
or vaulted ceiling, no chapel on one side,
draped in hush and flickering with a hundred
votives in red shot glasses. No one yet
has thought to make a sign for the in-between,
to gather up stamped tinfoil shapes others
have left in the dust: four-chambered heart,
scalpel, pie plate, ring. In the distance, a dog
barks; and a paving truck rolls over and over
the same spot on the road. Beside a green
trash bin, a fledgling trembles in damp grass,
his new dark coat stippled with faint
stockinettes of dusty gold. He’s brave enough
to return your gaze, and you try not to break
the spell. You tell yourself fear isn’t really
fear until it becomes aware of itself;
and who knows why any of us are here?

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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