Ours was not the kind of family whose fortunes & failures become legendary, whose sons' or patriarchs' indulgences were bought by placing bets with cattle or houses as guarantee; whose daughters & wives were beautiful but only in the way a rumor of smoke remains in some towns, long after they've burned to cinders— In the ruins, there was no general still dazed from the war, dictating orders in his crumpled uniform the color of putty, from inside the fortress of a claw-footed tub. We were the kind who quietly changed the chamberpots in the morning, or collected rain- water in empty oil pails. We were the kind sent with a letter and instructions to wait for a reply; the ones trusted to keep our eyes & mouths shut as bushes in the garden trembled with a volley of violent thrusts. We aired the linens & straightened the books, taking care there were at least two other witnesses in the room. The measure of our ambition was to be no larger than the present, no clearer than the past. The future was time, & time was for the gods; & therefore unseemly for our further concern. We saw the ways in which names could be let loose: they snaked their way across oceans, tasked to find the one root from which they first sprang, or broke. It is believed the wind once knew our names at the coast's edge. Then boats came, baptizing us in their wake.
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.