Baked goods and bread, biscuits and ladyfingers. Who taught us they start to spoil as soon as they’re exposed to air? S was the first to rape her followed by the juvenile and then A. Bone marrow, bus driver, then later a second time. This will not rise. The yeast is too putrid, or too cold. Later, when she lost consciousness, there was another time. Another time. They’ve sifted her ashes and scattered them. Sacred river with muddy waters on whose banks so many bodies have blazed to the afterlife. Birds’ wings anointed with ash. Her father said she used to stop for a sweet on the way to school. The shopkeeper always relented. Ah what is a child but the sweetness of a hope before it vanishes like a dark stone into the depths of the gut? With his bare hands. With his bare hands he pulled them out. Fix this clearly in your mind as you approach the fire. Do not scald the milk, the delicate skin on which this spore should flower into nothing less than a thousand points of her name.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) was recently appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia (2020-2022). She is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 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; she also teaches classes at The Muse Writers’ Center in Norfolk. 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.