- after "The Garden of Death," 1896; Hugo Simberg "...think of me as the Grim Reaper" - Mitch McConnell quoted on CBS News, April 2019 There'll be no need to stage un- limited debate or filibuster to block or delay the progress of souls: this is simply the place where the dead end up before going to heaven.* Too many plants to tend in this garden: in the millions. More than one dark- cowled attendant, though not enough of them. Of the three, the middle one looks to be most tender. She clasps a sprig of violets or bluebells to her chest—her favorite, out of the row in front of her: cacti, orange daisies, asters; white snowdrops that appear in early spring, while ice still covers the ground. Death walks among the raised flower boxes, green watering-can in one hand. Death clears weeds and brushes away aphids from under the leaves. No one tells you death doesn't come to reap you in your prime nor release you from earthly suffering. You arrive any time of day or night, not expecting to be fed or watered. You look up as death's face bends over yours, at the hollows that used to be eyes. Is it relief, even kind- ness, compared to the hate and hubris, the violence you heard preached from every podium, on the way here? *attributed to Finnish painter Hugo Simberg
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (website) is the 2023 Immigrant Writing Series prize winner for Caulbearer: Poems (due out from Black Lawrence Press in 2024), and 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.
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