In the home, grandmothers sit in a half-circle
under the sun which has come too early or too late.
The newest arrival pulls at a shawl around her shoulders
before entering the song in her head, too early or too late.
She is most garrulous, either from being disoriented or remembering
the importance of making a good impression before it's too late.
The others are silent, but not impassive. Who knows what
dreams the song has stirred in them, long-harbored and late?
But the singer's oblivious to everything but that design
climbing out of her throat. Dusted with melancholy, belated
arrival: her hands beat the air, Kappelmeister to a choir
of ghosts she conjures out of their fluids. Is it too late
to call each one by name, cradle them in tender hands?
Her hair silvers more in weak sunlight; it's not too late.
No one can make out the words now. The song thins to only
pure melody, or garbled signal: longing early and late.
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.