Listening to stories of mendicants traveling from place to place with nothing but a begging bowl, I envy the bowl. The bowl has better perfected detachment, indifferent to whether it might be filled with water or food or dust. I am not there yet. I envy the tree that gave shade, the cobra that levered its flaps like a leathered umbrella opened against the rain. At twilight, as the sun makes its exit over the hills, I envy the wider sash of indigo eclipsing the gold. When night settles over the fields and the last late truck bearing its cargo of lumber or stone crosses the bridge, I envy the errant wind that sends a fig or chestnut tumbling to the ground. I envy the riddle about the sea and the sleeping mat rolled up in the room, for the sureness of what they know of transformation. I envy the lemon tree that knows to grow quiet beside the shed, its white buds smaller and more luminous than the blisters on the back of a heel chafed by the edge of a shoe. And the bird in its branches, I envy that bird though I do not know its name before it arrives— the one whose beak and cry will be the first to pierce the silence of dawn.
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.