Tell me I’m lucid, says Josephine on the phone. Tell me my mind hasn’t gone. Tell me my speech is clear and that I make sense to you. I picture her on her hospital bed, trying to squeeze a rubber ball with her limp left hand. In sixth grade, during lunch or recess, we used to sit, books in hand, on a grassy knoll at the edge of the school grounds— away from the surveillance of nuns. To our left, a two-storey house with peeling paint, where music and art were taught— And in one room there, a gas oven and large work table where a sister worked with one helper to bake the Sacramental bread, the altar bread, the body of Christ, the host. Sometimes, when they felt generous, they gave us the lattices left behind after they punched circles smaller than cookies on thin sheets of dough; we ate them— unblessed— with our Coke. Just beyond, a row of latrines by the barbed wire fence. We held our breath coming over the path, past the overgrowth twined with morning-glories. There are shooting pains in my fingers, she says; and pins and needles down my side, all along my left foot. I tell her this should be a good sign: There is feeling left; and, Do you remember how we said we wanted to go to Bath? Think of how jolly that will be. Outside, the rain that has fallen all night now glistens on the grass.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for her manuscript Maps for Migrants and Ghosts, forthcoming from Southern Illinois University Press in fall 2020. She 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 former US Poet Laureate 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.