How are we always putting things
into our mouths, tearing them
into little pieces with our fingers,
feeding the oldest fish that lives
at the bottom of the river?
Tracing lazy circles in green mud,
it is always hungry. Why does it never
sleep? It doesn't take much to imagine
the clayey cold brushing against its belly,
the gold courtship of lighter bodies
it sees floating nearer the blue-green flick
of dragonfly wings. It takes work to pack
a vessel so no space is empty, so none
of those little yawning pockets grow
into holes that want to swallow all light.
I don't mean just excess. And I don't mean
the oily film that bubbles across the surface
because someone has failed to remember
to keep certain things to themselves.
At the end of the day I grow tired
of this kind of care. I want to live
inside a smaller gesture, go to bed
every night with my heart feeling light
as a monk who's lived only on a mouthful
of herbs and water for weeks but still
walks the fields, scattering bread
and salt upon the ground.
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.