"Jack be limbo, Jack be quick Jack go unda limbo stick..." ~ "Limbo Rock" In grade school the nuns taught us to say an extra prayer at night before we went to bed, for souls in purgatory— which they explained was something like a waiting hall or holding pen filled with those who couldn't get a clear pass either to heaven or hell. Dante imagines them instead in gradated circles— the uncommitted, undecided; the goody- one- instead of two-shoes; the bland as soybean cakes, forever neutral fence-sitters. Hoarders, wasters, the wrathful and overly indulgent; or those simply unwilling to affix a signature on the form of their final sentencing. Though I'm not quite ready to die, do I already have one foot in that vestibule even as the other drags in this world still proliferating with desire, where anything from limes to salted duck eggs can be sent by courier from the tropics to the barren north in winter? Look at what money can buy, said my late father a week before he passed away, amused by people parading by in fancy dress. And then the city collapsed into rubble around us. I hope by now he's moved from waiting room to one of the grand ballrooms with a 24-hour buffet and all the karaoke, a shiny parquet floor where his friends are showing off their dancing skills. When Dante passes from one circle to the next, overcome by the sight of so many souls in torment, he writes only that he fainted; in the underworld of the dead it's as if he too had met his death: And then I fell, even as a dead body falls.
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.