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Solar by Luisa A. Igloria

Luisa A. Igloria

“They were being taught to thank the sun for their lives and the warmth that it brought, the life that it brought to the earth and they were told to do that right before they did their sun salutation exercises…” ~ complaining parent quoted in 09 January 2013 NPR news article “Promoting Hinduism? Parents Demand Removal Of School Yoga Class”

And why should we not thank the sun
for life and warmth it lavishes on all
regardless of caste or class; why not

thank the mountains that sustain and are
far older than the buildings and townhouses
lining the avenues, older than the giant

letters that have spelled Hollywood
in bright white only since 1923, older
than Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

and its forecourt bearing the handprints,
footprints, and signatures of movie stars?
And why should we not give thanks

for the heart expanding, the lungs filling
with our common lien of breath, the ribcage
hinging open as the body is reminded

how it feels to press its length along the ground
then rises like a cobra, like a tree, like an eagle
balancing upon a rock? And what is prayer

but a way to teach— in any tongue, by any
means— the kind of quiet that extends
farther than comprehension; and what

is wonder but what might link us once again
to vastness, leaf outward as gratitude, no matter
circumstance or clime? Just ask the oldest

giant sequoia— so old it must have started
growing in the iron age, rooted first
as seed before reaching for the sun.


What I’m thankful for these days: the way your eyes smile when you look at me. The way my lungs expand when I breathe you in, my nose against your collarbone. The way your arms close around me, the way I nestle close. All that warmth.

I always thought of gratitude as a universal act: everywhere in the world, I imagine there must be a word or gesture that means appreciation, that means I recognise what I receive, and I am thankful. A hat tip, a nod, a kiss, palms raised, a low bow. It must exist, no? Everywhere in the world, even in corners which barely see the sun.

When I touch your ribcage, I am grateful. I think about the body that houses all of you and how lucky I am to be able to hold it. When sunlight bathes your face, it takes my breath away, and I wonder how many lifetimes I have travelled to get here.

How many times have I found a prayer inside a poem. Here I am on my knees murmuring words, reading to myself over and over how the poem celebrates life, the intimate, cyclical process of breathing. With a sense of reverence, the poem invites me to marvel at the complexities of human existence.

When I am making you a meal, I am saying, thank you for loving me. When I am saving the last bite of this cake for your mouth, I am saying, thank you for being here. When I am wiping the rain from your face and shrugging you out of your wet shirt and into something warm, I am saying, thank you for this life.


This poem appeared in Via Negativa, 2013. Shared here with profound gratitude.


Read more works by Luisa A. IgloriaFind books by this poet • Or view my library


Explore poems in pursuit of: prayersgratitudethe body • Or browse the index

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Comments (2)

  • C

    oh, to feel like this again…


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