Go, they said. We'll help take care of the children. That first winter, I buy padlocks, a flashlight, a disposable camera at the drugstore so I can take snapshots of the snow on the way to campus. Don't go out with damp hair, I'm told; or they'll snap like brittle icicles in cold air. Before I find an apartment shared with other grad students, I make my first calls from public phones in lobbies. I clutch a paper bag of coins in one hand and listen for the warning tone. The day of departure loops in my mind: my mother and two older daughters rising before dawn to board a cab for the airport; we all decide it will be a mercy to leave the youngest, still asleep, with our katulong. What words did we say exactly and what sort of embrace :: before the doors sealed themselves in place between us. Year after year and it is a decade :: then two :: then three. You make a litany of what I've missed for which there never will be a good enough answer. I can tell you about the blur of nights but not about the sounds of longing I'm told escape my lips in sleep. I could tell you that my life, narrowing more toward that cold museum bend, will never amass adequate redress :: this body and its relics incapable of righting all the scales.
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.