Tests for sainthood

When the saints still lived
in their previous lives, ordinary

mortals just like us, they did not know
how someday the faithful would fight

for a scrap of their clothing to pin
to undergarments, or press their faces

to glass under which their remains lie
undisturbed as the very day they died.

So I am beginning to collect fragments
that might tell a kind of story of your life

though I don’t know all of it: yellowed sheets
of piano music, a picture where you stand

on the balcony overlooking a crater lake.
The slender curve of your neck, your finely

carved cheekbones, how you told me once your waist
was a size nineteen when you were my age. Though I

might fast or count mouthfuls of water and bread,
I could never hope to emulate that example.

Even so, I practice hunting the sweet, buttery thread
running through every vein of bitter green. I try

not to shudder at the thought of rodents
coming out of the floorboards at night

when the world thinks we are sleeping; how
instead of casting them out you name them

señorita, let them sink their teeth into
loaves of bread, into garments made of lace.

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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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