I have only your head: heavy, life- sized, discolored by lichen and chalky in spots, severed from the rest of you; stylized rendition of your signature hairstyle with topknot, eyes cast down benignly, lips in a half-smile; round chiseled ears ending in a slightly fleshier lobe that indicates you might have worn earrings—Royal in youth, ascetic in later years; one for whom a life of solitude became the home of homes. How free were you, really, from all distraction: living in the wilderness or pilgrim on the road? Where I sit, book open and computer idle, I find it difficult to tune out birdsong, that mellow light of late afternoon that tends to stir up a mess of feelings I only thought were safely settled at the bottom of my well. Several times these past few weeks it's like I've lost if not my head then my mind, unable to comprehend this epidemic of suffering all over the world. O sorrow I don't know what to do with my hands, where my feet could take me other than from room to room inside my house or around the block. I can imagine you saying something like Don't attempt to control what cannot be controlled; or This virus, though real, still is part of the universe of illusion... But for pointing out what's true or backed by evidence, prophets and scientists have a tendency to be thrown out of the press conference; fired, booed, or worse, assassinated while the lot of us go on as best we can manage. So I plant one foot in front of the other, trying to find a way to that clearing where I'll meet again the missing parts of myself; where silence is more shimmer than menace and I might remember what it's like to be tender.
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.