Apocalypse has been imminent for a while now. Oyez, oyez: zoonoses are here, jumping from virus to parasite to human. Ebola, bird flu, typhus, swine flu; now this pandemic. No certainty you and I will get through this period unscathed. Will it ebb, combine with new pathogens or dormant ones awakening to join the mix? Xylon-wielding surgeons are perplexed by the violet blooms, toxic discoloration on patients' limbs, followed by constricted airflow. Wagons filled with corpses in that other nightmare from 1918: the dead even then filling morgues, graveyards, ditches. Mortality the leitmotiv, vaccines not being administered until '45, though the elixir known as absinthe fed wormwood extract, green anise and fennel to 17th c. fever dreams. You unbind the spirit, pour it over a sugar cube into a glass. Harder than a spliff— grief and gangrene the stones that drinkers want to drown. Poor, affluent, their terror equal before the end and its unearthly phantoms. What drug halfway eases the wild decline of a world diseased, aflame, its wastes stopping the sink so nothing drains away, and nothing freshens? Each instant ticks either louder than the last, or it grows softer. Rituals we've learned: wrapping half our faces in layers, nuclei jimmied as far apart as possible, though not as far as from here to taqqiq. Quiet descends upon households. No fights or haircuts, as during Hajj. Kill it, make a killing, we used to say. Now the days are a too-long nap. Perhaps the end we fear won't actually take place. No going berserk: let the hours sit as they used to without being stretched thin, adagio overtures play without arriving at the coda. Write the word auroral many times in a notebook that has seen better days— you and I need consolations of repetition or error: things to revisit in a dream.
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.