"Try not to make too much of suffering."
Try not to make it into a profession."
~ Tony Hoagland, "The Classics"
Who could have imagined a life
compounded of ordinary errands
like going to the store for toilet
paper or diapers, then the doctor's
clinic for shots and prescriptions;
mornings of opening the refrigerator
to grab a sandwich for the day ahead;
dropping off one child at daycare
and the other at the public school--
And who could have told you of those
clear, lucid moments between raking
the leaves and packing them into lawn
bags, between rolling the trash can
out to the curb and locking the gate
again; between walking in a daze
through rubble in the streets after
an earthquake to emptying your lungs
of what feels like decades of tears?
And you remember from long-ago
catechism that a decade is a mystery,
your fingers fumbling from one slow bead
to the next, each one seemingly
identical to the other but standing
for a different trial that must be
borne. So yes, what happens to you has
and has not already happened before:
a debt paid off that comes back into
the ledger, numbers written on one side
in watery ink; tomorrow and tomorrow
and tomorrow whispering old promises
that you have no choice except to believe.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) was recently appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia (2020-2022). She is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). She 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 former US Poet Laureate 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; she also teaches classes at The Muse Writers’ Center in Norfolk. 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.