What pain would you elect to keep you company in the bed of your desire? Climb a cliff face, run an ultramarathon, fast for weeks: at the farthest edge of the present moment soaked in a pain of your choosing, you might touch the hem of transcendence. It will fill you up with its dopamine, its message that the mind has won over the body and its cracked palms, its gangrened fingernails, its toes bent and bleeding from fouetté after fouetté on a lit-up stage. But what of the kind of pain for which there is no cure, that one day chooses you for no discernible reason; that brings you understanding of the differences between chronic, intractable, unyielding? The line between pleasure and pain is sometimes blurred, sometimes clear as a blade in this world of beings which must devour each other to survive: the cricket and the mealworm in the jaws of a frog; the frog in the mouth of a vole. The snake in the grass intent on working out the skin of its own brilliant transformation snatched up by a sharp-shinned raptor— which comes from the same root as rapture: meaning seize, abduct, ravish.
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.