The pump for water, the mossy step. The door we couldn’t close in damp weather, the screen coming loose from its frame. The landlord warned about the basement: how the laundry machines were in the far corner, but there might be loose hardware strewn across the floor. We tried to clean as best as we could, thought it was hard to see by the light from one dim bulb hanging from the ceiling. Winter mornings, we’d wake to find bread bags chewed through on the counter— crumbs trailing toward the gap at the bottom of the kitchen door. Maintenance crew came by to set some bait on a flimsy trap; they returned a day later when we phoned. It had caught something— Roof rat, they said, donning rubber gloves to pick up the creature taking shallow breaths in the corner. Its nose was a pink nerve twitching, its small dark eyes signaling that it knew now we could not live together.
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.