The trainer at the gym hands you a 25-lb. weight for what's called the one-hand suitcase carry— weight of a sack of rice, weight of a squirming toddler, weight of three gallons of water like the ones you somehow carried from the busted main in the park, days after the earthquake in your city. How did you do it, how does anyone manage a new hardship that arrives without warning, without instructions or any period of training, that simply drops at your feet so you have no choice but to learn by carrying? In Middle English, the word lift once meant the air, the atmosphere; the sky, the firmament. A raising up from the ground or soil or mud, or picking up and dusting off to stand upright again. The move is supposed to open up tight shoulders so they align with the natural curve of the spine. Everything, you're told, connects: core, shoulders, upper back, hips, glutes. Your goal is to walk bearing this weight without falling, to work with the resistance that wants to derail your grounding. This kind of suitcase isn't a wheelie; how long and how well can you schlep? What is this instinct to carry, forward and back, once it's in your hands?
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (website) is the 2023 Immigrant Writing Series prize winner for Caulbearer: Poems (due out from Black Lawrence Press in 2024), and 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.
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