I admit there are days your Stoic's playbook seems useful and wise: as when things that could never possibly be in my control (like the hour of my death, or that of my spouse or children) cause me such pain and worry I lose sleep, get eyebags, get heartburn, I forget where I put my phone and keys. But then I remember that the word stoic also refers to someone supposedly indifferent to pain or pleasure, sorrow or joy— and that's really what trips me up no end. I'm the type who always cries when the evil stepsisters tear at the dress of the youngest daughter, even if it was only a thrift store find—their plan is to shame her so much, she'll give up on any plans to attend the big shindig thrown by the richest man in the land. But I'm also her, wanting to find some way to leave her wretched garret overrun with rodents, where at night she swears she can hear termites devouring the insides of a beam, all the way to its heart. There are certain kinds of houses where space and the very air seem orchestrated to produce the most shining light. Every surface is clean, and minimalist furniture makes it seem too like a stoic's dream. Sadly, all the houses I've lived in have been full of stuffy little rooms, knickknacks collecting dust but so connected to some beautiful, sentimental memory I can't bring myself to get rid of them. Marcus, were you one of the first to say whatever it is, you can't take it with you? If so, I want to know exactly how you know. Did you pass away and come back to tell us? And why are prisoners asked what they want for a last meal— steak and mushrooms, champagne, burgers and beer, ice cream, cotton candy— only for all of that to melt from the tongue into limbo or oblivion?
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (website) 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 was appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia for 2020-22, and in 2021 received 1 of 23 Poet Laureate Fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Mellon Foundation. 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.