As a child you have such small,
slender fingers. When you touch them
lightly to the window of the taxicab,
they barely leave a smudge. The world,
if not completely new anymore, still has
24-hour convenience and grocery stores,
where you can stand in front of the ice
cream cases reading a wonderment of names
to melt on the tongue. What happened to make
that door slide into a catch? And on the other
side, spindrifts blown by cresting winds;
wrong way signs; trails that go on and on. You
walk them dutifully, hoping for the one
that returns to a wardrobe and a dusty attic.
Anywhere, really, where the landscape
is ordinary. No complications, no tricks
played on the mind so it alternates
between brave and terrified, exultant
and abased, hopeful then abject. Is this
what they call eternity? If so, where are your
ancestors, those spirit guides you fed
with cheese and shrimp puffs, rice balls, tea?
If they live there, the least they could do
is provide a clean room; a towel and a cake of soap.
Rest after years and years of weary trudging.
A different song than elegy playing on the jukebox.
You'd invite them to share an old-fashioned banana
split. Artificial cherry on top, but lots of cream.
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.