What wounds, what overgrown fields and blunted ploughs. What skies dangling with freefall of blasted birds. What broken shelves of mountains on which markhor have left behind their winter coats, their spiraled horns. What towns of smoke and elegy of 9 AM shadow. What strange noons of orange fog, an acreage of embers sparking into fire. The moon keeps a tally on its chipped marble whiteboard: each plank of hewn and stolen wood; each pod of pilot whales and porpoises, their effort to steer out of boiled saltwater to strand upon the coast. And you, mouth that did not eat of soups with sea-turtle eggs and pangolin flesh, that did not tear the joints off buttonquail roasted on bamboo spits, that did not dip a spoon into stews of elk— yet you dressed your skin in velvet and let them dwindle into abandoned shells, sink like rusted vessels. Always at dusk, the ancestors visit: their wings cleave air you find increasingly hard to breathe. What wounds, what fingerprints you’ve left on every surface: hard as diamond points, scattershot trails visible from thousands of miles above the earth. There’s only this moment. Don’t call on stars or meteors. Don’t speak just to speak.
In response to Via Negativa: Unthinkability.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (website) 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 was appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia for 2020-22, and in 2021 received 1 of 23 Poet Laureate Fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Mellon Foundation. 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.