"...each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name"
~ G. M. Hopkins, "As Kingfishers Catch Fire"
You, my dead and dying, follow me from city
to city— you take up very little space
but hoist your luggage in envelopes of water
that leak from time to time. You hover
near my shoulder like a fever, like you did
when I was a girl, making sure I finish
every morsel on my plate. In wistful tones
you tell stories about the neighbors'
children: how last summer the eldest took
her parents on a cruise down the Rhine,
how the son surprised his mother with a new
car in the driveway, engine running,
its hood adorned with a giant bow. You hide
my pillbox behind the cookie tin and make
me want to drink all the ice water in the fridge,
looking for a small slice of moon. I promise
I will sweep the dust out from under the furniture
and sort through boxes of paper marked
Important; but first I need a nap. A faint
clicking like castanets means I've
disappointed you again. I'm sorry I pawned
the silver candlesticks and ruby pendant.
The kitchen cupboards are filled with mugs
from different restaurants and my bankbook
with smaller and smaller numbers. You're always
telling me my life can still be good, better
than what I left behind. After all these years
you stroke my hair and ask me to pick out
the ghost-grey from your heads: you'll give
me five centavos for each one pulled out
at the root so I can be your sad girl forever
but please— leave my daughters alone.
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.