Lantern Review | Issue 8.1

Luisa A. Igloria

Mare Dolor

Everywhere is heart-rending wail,
everywhere consternation, and death
in a thousand shapes . . .


Lie back down in the earth
next to the stones and roots—

A wind has blown open all
the doors of the house.

Cabinet doors have come
unhinged; ripped floorboards

have upended the furniture.
No one can speak directly

of what happened here.
But we cannot set a table

straight again. It hurts
to lie in the grass

as night with its thousand
perforations engulfs you.

Never full, never empty—

the way fields look right after gleaning,

the way a city looks in the early hours
when at last the restaurants and pubs are closing

and the workers who have collected their tips
make their way to this place they know

(workers only) where you can get the red-eye special,
chilaquiles, or caldo like someone’s mama

used to make back in the day; coffee, eggs on toast
with sriracha—Never fevered but always

at a pitch, the way the temperature of a body
that has known nothing but to be in flight

would melt the ice on the porch just standing still—
For such is the life of the never here, never there,

the ones with such beautiful names—of course
they come from other worlds right here

within our own: Quarmaine, whose single
rhinestone earring chimes its light along

with the cash register’s as he rings up the goods
but pauses to ask how to make wontons, which

he adores. And Ravi, who packs my groceries,
listening as I list ingredients and describe

with my fingers how to pull the moist
corners of each square into a kind of bud.

And I say drink the soup when it’s scalding hot,
make lots of it to share—For it is always never dark,

or never light, or never something or other enough;
it’s never good enough, we are never going to be

good enough for whatever it is the jurors say it is
this time around, sitting in a circle like trees

that ring the frozen pond, their branches
heavy with the weight of all that sifted cold.

Photo of Luisa A. Igloria Luisa A. Igloria is one of two cowinners of the 2019 Crab Orchard Poetry Open Competition for her manuscript Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (forthcoming from Southern Illinois University Press in September 2020). In 2015, she was the inaugural winner of the Resurgence Prize (UK), the world's first major award for ecopoetry. She teaches on the faculty of the MFA creative writing program at Old Dominion University, which she directed from 2009–2015. • Photo by Chuck Thomas

Return to the top of the page ▲