You learn the difference between not holding your breath and its opposite— The first takes a long time, longer than you could survive what you thought would only be a temporary lack of oxygen. The second can mean take a quick inhale and hold that bright little bubble of surprise or delight at the unexpected: quickly release it from your mouth and watch it float, then clap your hands upon receipt of a longed-for piece of good news or a loved one's return. And truly, there are things that take hardly any time; but when you're waiting, they can feel like eternity— for the light to change from yellow to green, the water in the kettle to boil. You're old enough to remember when flash photography meant a little cube filled with explosive powders and filaments attached to a Kodak instamatic camera. The photographer counted Three-two-one! before setting off a mini-bonfire of magnesium foil to flood her subjects' faces with extra light. The sharp pop made you cringe, your face contort into anything but a smile. And you remember watching on the news each rocket launch of astronauts into the sky, as ground crew voiced their solemn countdown from ten to liftoff—the heat of burning fuel and the whole world exhaling one long breath producing enough energy to propel our tinfoil-colored craft into space. *** Poet's note: I thought it fitting that I wrote a poem involving counting— as today marks my 10th year writing [at least] a poem a day!
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.