A Visitation

It comes to her as a sudden flash
in the final hours of vigil: a blur

of wings attaching themselves
improbably, like some kind of vintage

brooch, to the pleated underside
of a casket lid. Even then she’d learned

to cultivate a skepticism for things
that appeared too sweet, too sure, too

magical— so where did the hummingbird
come from, and what could it mean if there

were room to entertain the possibility
that the soul doesn’t only divide from out

of its own reservoirs of desire? The hardest
part is that both the seen and unseen are also

aspects of language. Does she speak of it,
or does she fold the bird back into

the silence enclosing both of them like
an envelope? And the body, too, of

the beloved. The one that flew away
and left this shape cooling in its box.

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.

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