When you grow up in a city with a man- made lake, you do not learn to swim. You learn to lean into the oars and pull, all the while facing the creaky dock. This is one way to move forward, to set into motion, to look as if you know where you're going. Overhead, a sky filters through willow leaves. Streetlamps are only streetlamps and not a row of gavels preparing judgment. Your ancestors still sleep under bedspreads tufted with fog and pine needles. Unlike you, they never wanted to climb over the teacup's rim. You know a god doesn't linger there or strike a spoon, giving off lightning sparks. Your eyes have learned to adjust to light; your hands, between the makeshift screen and the source, still remember how to make the shapes for dragonfly and bird, fish and trembling hare.
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.