In this portrait only one of them is smiling for the camera. They are young enough still; but not so young to not care about concealing the gaps in front teeth, a lock of hair that won’t be tamed.
The last war is many years behind them. He lost a fingernail in that one. She lost her birth mother so young, she does not remember anything about her except for a name.
A fragrance, a sweet roll, a recipe that won’t be passed down because its maker is gone. The smell released by yeast cells spreading across a cup of lukewarm water.
Who will teach them how banks and pawnshops work, the way to breathe again after looking upon the enormity of what the years are about to exact?
She sits at the edge of the pool trying to keep the children quiet. They are in a different city. Then the curfews are announced and everyone has to go indoors.
Sometimes they read encyclopedia pages aloud by flashlight or candlelight while waiting for power to be restored. He likes the entry about the third eye— how it is related to the pineal gland, which affects sensitivity to light and is thought to flood the body with a chemical substance during the big upheavals of birth and death.
There is a part about how some precolonial cultures practiced tapping the space on the forehead between the eyes with a pointed instrument. The younger the subject, the better.
She remembers how her two older children looked when they had seizures as babies— the stiffened limbs, the way their eyes rolled back into their heads like unmoored marbles.
A sudden urge to eat sweets or roasted seeds, and drink water. Following, sleep like a thick white blanket, sounds sifting through the brain as if they came from somewhere very far away.
But it is the mother’s body twitching awake at the smallest tremor not her own.
In response to Via Negativa: Self-actualization.
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 (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, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.