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Our Lady of Perpetual Loss

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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)
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Our Lady of Perpetual Loss

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  • 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 (1999), winner of the Diane Decorah Memorial First Book Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas; and The Zen of La Llorona (2005), nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. Miranda also received the 2000 Writer of the Year Award for Poetry from the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. Her mixed-genre collection Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir (2013) won a Gold Medal from the Independent Publisher's Association and was shortlisted for the William Saroyan Award.
     
    Miranda’s poetry is informed by her mixed-blood ancestry...

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