In stories we were told, the theme
was always obedience— or else its opposite,
faithlessness. The girl who lazed in bed,
luxuriating in the gauzy envelope of mosquito
netting that made it feel like she could set
herself apart for just a little while
from the world: how, not rising quick
enough to the summons of her mother,
she was turned into a plant
stagnating in a pool of water. Hollow
stems, the damp carrying through her limbs
as constant reminder of callousness.
In parables, intention doesn't count:
there is only what's done, and the penalty
that follows after. No one cares about
nuance or motivation. And in this lifetime,
will we ever be allowed to tend to that
first house of the self without incurring
the wrath of the ancestors? The alarm clock
rings in the early dark. You want to stay there,
but the morning beckons like an ancient curse.
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.