Our Lady of Perpetual Loss

By Deborah A. Miranda
Maybe all losses before this one are practice:
maybe all grief that comes after her death seems tame.
I wish I knew how to make dying simple,
wish our mother’s last week were not constructed
of clear plastic tubing, IVs, oxygen hiss,
cough medicine, morphine patches, radiation tattoos,
the useless burn on her chest.
I’m still the incurable optimist, she whispers,
you’re still the eternal pessimist.
My sister sleeps on a sofa; our brother, exhausted,
rolls up in a blanket on the hard floor.
Curled in a rented white bed, our mother’s body
races to catch up with her driven, nomadic soul.
Those nights alone, foster care, empty beer bottles
taught us she was always already vanishing.

Deborah A. Miranda, “Our Lady of Perpetual Loss” from The Zen of La Llorona. Copyright © 2005 by Deborah A. Miranda. Reprinted by permission of Salt Publishing.

Source: The Zen of La Llorona (Salt Publishing, 2005)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Deborah A. Miranda

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Death, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, Life Choices

Poetic Terms Elegy, Free Verse

 Deborah A. Miranda

Biography

An enrolled member of the Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen Nation of California, poet Deborah Miranda was born in Los Angeles to an Esselen/Chumash father and a mother of French ancestry. She grew up in Washington State, earning a BS in teaching moderate special-needs children from Wheelock College in 1983 and an MA and PhD in English from the University of Washington. Miranda’s collections of poetry include Indian Cartography: Poems . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, Life Choices

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Elegy, Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.