When we come home after the funeral, someone is waiting by the door to wash our hands and dry them with a white cotton cloth. Salt is sprinkled on our heads and then we go inside to eat the cakes made from black rice and molasses. In another room, someone has started the rosary; I fall asleep to the heavy drone of voices and wake when someone nudges me to come and eat. On the front stoop the men are playing cards. If the spirit wanted to slip back in this would be the time: whoever has been crying is spent and is being fed sweets, or is drunk from many shots of gin. Rain falls and someone takes up a guitar to sing. The widow joins in and cannot go past the refrain. But even the crickets have taken up their nightly place again under the leaves.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for her manuscript Maps for Migrants and Ghosts, forthcoming from Southern Illinois University Press in fall 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. 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.