“An oar moves a boat by entering what lies outside it.” ~ Jane Hirshfield

After the walls of the houses came down,
for more than a month it seemed the earth
would not stop shaking—

You were barely two during this near-
apocalyptic time: what did you see,
how much do you remember?

By day the sounds of medical transport choppers
filled the air; by night we slept with shoes
on our feet, pulse rattling in our mouths,

ready to scoop you in our arms and flee (where?)
at a moment’s notice. Every now and again
I think about it all,

then of the years that followed: clicking
waterfall of dominoes, marker after marker
slipping past like ghost

islands in mist. When I left,
did I turn spectral too? I won’t
dishonor the years of absence

with platitudes; you know as much
that I too wanted to find fresh
fortune in the winds,

a clearing where I could harbor.
Midwives of desire and discontent,
we’re utterly changed

yet shaped by what others call fate,
what I call simply the particulars
of biography.

The lovely singer with the soulful eyes croons
Non, rien de rien; promises we can start
over again— that it’s paid for, removed, forgotten.


In response to Via Negativa: Voyager.

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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 (forthcoming, 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, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

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