High in the hills, the dead

are pressed into crevices of limestone.

Their limbs, their bones, are smaller now,
pebbled or smoothly pleated. Their shrouds

have attained the quality of paper.
Tresses? Eyelash hair? These have become

slight as wind, but brittle. Removed from
village life, they do not care if animals

inquire into their secrets, hoard seeds
or feathers in the louvres of their ribs.

Nights dark as ink, then dawns
splayed through blue fingers of pine.

If it were here and whole, the heart
would think this was a nest.


             “Let heaven and earth be my coffins…” ~ Chuang-tzu



In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

3 Replies to “High in the hills, the dead”

  1. I love it too.

    Luisa, I’ve just been reading Emily Carr’s “Klee Wyck,” about her visits to the Haida villages on the Pacific coast as a young woman (the name of the book was the name the Indians gave her — it means “Laughing One.”) She went there to sketch the totem poles, and often speaks about the graves perched in some of them. I learned of this as a child myself, and a lot of my feelings on discovering that came back to me as I read Emily’s poems. It’s such a difficult idea for most of us — of leaving bones out in the air — and yet somehow I like it. I always felt privileged when I came upon bleached animal or bird bones in the forest, in their natural grave of leaves.

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