There are folders and old newspapers in every corner and more than forty bags of mildewed clothes in the foyer, in the spare room— nobody now knows what is in them. Aunty has finally agreed to let the cleaning women take them to the gate for the next trash pickup. There may have been silks ties serge suits a yellow sheath with a ribbon on one shoulder. Dark sable slippers with holes in the arch. Trousers in a small houndstooth check sweater sets of mohair navy skirts of plain cotton. White slips with small rosettes and lace trim a tan leather coat with brass buttons and two breast pockets once borrowed by nephew S. without asking the summer he came into town. Sixteen but eager to get his driver’s license early he begged uncle to use some of his influence at the city hall. Maybe in one of them is the fleecy bathrobe with two pockets— one for holding a folded novena to St. Jude and the other a pair of nailclippers. And the yellow shirt with rust colored dots that uncle liked to wear each new year’s eve the one with a dark stain on the cuff from forgetting at the last minute to toss a firecracker into the yard. Sometimes we are seized with fear like that or a sudden pall of misunderstanding. Perhaps that’s when the world kind of stands still. Then part of the future comes through the haze like a warning. And it is so strange and frightening it roots us to the spot. We don’t even feel the small flames beginning to eat at the outlines of our hands.
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.