Sky Island Journal

Review :: “How to Pray for Your Enemies” by Cristina Legarda

Cristina Legarda headshot

Post by Denise Hill

Like many well-intentioned meditators, I struggle with the concept of metta, that effort to show loving kindness both to ourselves and others, including our enemies. “Be like the Dalai Lama…” To which I respond, “We cannot all be Dalai Lamas.” However, “How to Pray for your Enemies” by Christina Legarda [pictured] from the most recent issue of Sky Island Journal has been the keenest instructional I have encountered.

It begins, “First, get the fantasy of vengeance / out of your system. The way / you would core them out / with your sharpest knife…” which is the most un-Dalai Lama thought we might gravitate toward (and which Mindset author Carol Dweck says is prevalent in both the fixed- and growth-minded). After filling out this fantasy with additional detail (which feels more disturbing than satisfying – and rightly so), Legarda moves the reader to the next phase, to cry and “collect all your tears / and put them in the sun till all you have / is their salt [. . . ] and how tiny / the heap will seem to you, after all / those tears, a little mountain no bigger / than the print from your thumb.” While that may seem dismissive, it actually acknowledges how the internalized pain and torment we manifest results in very little that is tangible or beneficial to us. It is both a validation and a call to “move on.”

Legarda moves on by taking the experience from the external to within, taking the reader to go “sit alone in the desert” until the vision of a child comes, “the hungry child, crying child / hiding behind your enemy’s face,” telling the reader to embrace this child, “until you no longer wish / to cut out your own core; / until the child inside you / weeps no more.”

With this, Legarda brings the instruction full circle to that initial vengeful evisceration, showing us how there is no other. The damage we do, we do to ourselves, and that child is our own self who needs loving kindness.


“How to Pray for Your Enemies” by Cristina Legarda. Sky Island Journal, Fall 2022.

Reviewer bio: Denise Hill is the Editor of NewPages, which welcomes reviews of books as well as individual poems, stories, and essays. If you are interested in contributing a Guest Post to “What I’m Reading,” please click this link: NewPages.com Reviewer Guidelines.

Magazine Stand :: Sky Island Journal – Fall 2022

Sky Island Journal Issue 22 Fall 2022 online literary magazine cover image

Sky Island Journal’s stunning 22nd issue features poetry, flash fiction, and creative nonfiction from contributors around the globe. Accomplished, well-established authors are published—side by side—with fresh, emerging voices. Readers are provided with a powerful, focused literary experience that transports them: one that challenges them intellectually and moves them emotionally. Always free to access, and always free from advertising, discover what over 115,000 readers in 145 countries and over 700 contributors already know; the finest new writing can be found where the desert meets the mountains.

Contributors in the Fall 2022 issue include Adrianna Sanchez-Lopez, Amanda Leal, Amy Marques, Angela Williamson Emmert, Barun Saha, Carly Taylor, Christian Knoeller, Cristina Legarda, Daniela Paraguya Sow, Doug Jacquier, Erin Olson, Evangeline Sanders, Greg Rapier, James K. Zimmerman, Jason Brightwell, Jen Schneide, Jeniya Mard, Jeremy Dixon, Jolene Won, Jonathan Odell, Katy Luxem, Lee Potts, Lindsay Rockwell, Lorrie Ness, Matt Hohner, Nicholas Trandahl, Nicole Rollender, Pepper Trail, Phillip Sterling, Rose Mary Boehm, Sam Fouts, Shanna Yetman, Shannon Huffman Polso, Susan Su, Tara Williams, Tawnya Gibson, Tina Lentz-Mcmillan, and Wren Jones.

Magazine Stand :: Sky Island Journal – Summer 2022

Sky Island Journal online literary magazine Summer 2022 issue cover image

Sky Island Journal’s stunning 21st issue features poetry, flash fiction, and creative nonfiction from contributors around the globe. Accomplished, well-established authors are published—side by side—with fresh, emerging voices. Readers are provided with a powerful, focused literary experience that transports them: one that challenges them intellectually and moves them emotionally. Read works from Amy Marques, Ann Chinnis, Annette Sisson, Arden Stockdell-Giesler, Beth Oast Williams, Carole Greenfield, Cheryl Slover-Linett, Courtney Justus, Cristian Ramirez, Cynthia Singerman, Dan Shields, Deron Eckert, Edilson Afonso Ferreira, Emily Patterson, Erin Henry, Fannie H. Gray, Heather Diamond, Isabel Markowski, John Muro, Julie Benesh, Kathryn De Lancellotti, Katrina Hays, Kiana Mccrackin, Kit Willett, Lisken Van Pelt Dus, Lorrie Ness, Maira Rodriguez, Melody Wilson, Michael Keenan Gutierrez, Michele Lovell, Mizuki Kai, Nancy Beauregard, Olivia Badoi, Philip Cioffari, Robbin Farr, Valerie Nies, Vivian Montgomery, and Wylde J. Parsley,. Always free to access, and always free from advertising, discover what over 100,000 readers in 145 countries already know: the finest new writing is just a click away!

Magazine Stand :: Sky Island Journal – Spring 2022

Sky Island Journal Spring 2022 online literary magazine cover image

Sky Island Journal’s stunning 20th issue features poetry, flash fiction, and creative nonfiction from contributors around the globe. Accomplished, well-established authors are published—side by side—with fresh, emerging voices from around the globe, including Andrew Cusick, Bracha K. Sharp, Christina H. Felix, David Axelrod, Elaine Fowler, Feiya Zhang, Grant Chemidlin, James Barnes, John Muro, Karen Poppy, Lana Lehpamer, Linda Michel-Cassidy, Lorrie Ness, Maryam Imogen Ghouth, Michelle McMillan-Holifield, Patrick Dawson, R.B. Smith, Robert Rinehart, Samantha Liu, Sarah Normandie, Sera Gamble, William R. Stoddart, and many more. Readers are provided with a powerful, focused literary experience that transports them: one that challenges them intellectually and moves them emotionally. Always free to access, and always free from advertising, discover what over 100,000 readers in 145 countries already know; the finest new writing is here, at your fingertips.

Call :: Sky Island Journal Winter 2022 Issue

Deadline: December 31, 2021
Sky Island Journal is an independent, international, free-access literary journal dedicated to publishing the finest poetry, flash fiction, and creative nonfiction. We publish accomplished, well-established authors—side by side—with fresh, emerging voices. We provide over 90,000 readers in 145 countries with a powerful, focused, advertising-free literary experience that transports them: one that challenges them intellectually and moves them emotionally. We publish quarterly, and our average response time is 9 days. Every submission receives a prompt, respectful response detailing what we appreciated. Enjoy our previous issues, and submit to our stunning Issue 19 before midnight on December 31st, at www.skyislandjournal.com.

Call :: Sky Island Journal: Issue 19 (Winter 2022) Call for Submissions

Deadline: December 31, 2021
Sky Island Journal is an independent, international, free-access literary journal dedicated to publishing the finest poetry, flash fiction, and creative nonfiction. We publish accomplished, well-established authors—side by side—with fresh, emerging voices. We provide over 90,000 readers in 145 countries with a powerful, focused, advertising-free literary experience that transports them: one that challenges them intellectually and moves them emotionally. We publish quarterly, and our average response time is 9 days. Every submission receives a prompt, respectful response detailing what we appreciated. Enjoy our previous issues, and submit to our stunning Issue 19 before midnight on December 31st, at www.skyislandjournal.com.

Sky Island Journal – No. 18

Sky Island Journal’s stunning 18th issue is now out. Accomplished, well-established authors are published—side by side—with fresh, emerging voices. Readers are provided with a powerful, focused literary experience that transports them: one that challenges them intellectually and moves them emotionally. Always free to access, and always free from advertising, discover what over 90,000 readers in 145 countries already know; the finest new writing is here, at your fingertips. More info at Sky Island Journal website.

Call :: Sky Island Journal: Issue 18 (Fall 2021)

Desert ravine with blue sky and white cloudsDeadline: September 30, 2021
Sky Island Journal is an independent, international, free-access literary journal dedicated to publishing the finest poetry, flash fiction, and creative nonfiction. We publish accomplished, well-established authors—side by side—with fresh, emerging voices. We provide over 90,000 readers in 145 countries with a powerful, focused, advertising-free literary experience that transports them: one that challenges them intellectually and moves them emotionally. We publish quarterly, and our average response time is 9 days. Every submission receives a prompt, respectful response detailing what we appreciated. Enjoy our previous issues, and submit to our stunning Issue 18 before midnight on September 30th, at www.skyislandjournal.com.