We climbed the hundred steps and rang the bell. Taking turns, we wrapped our hands around a bundle of prayer sticks and dropped them on the table. Sleepy-eyed, a monk pushed toward us a pad of paper, a pencil stub. We were to write down a question or a wish, which is also a kind of question. How far we were from the cities where we'd crossed the thresholds of all our houses. We didn't save the stone of every fruit that fell so brightly from the tree, proclaiming it was ready to become our brand- new heart. Mist was always drifting through the valley. A bridge was always cutting through it to disappear somewhere beyond. On a distant ridge, the ruins of a convent or a garrison, where ghosts walked their labyrinths and kept to themselves any counsel about the future. I wanted to keep a souvenir, to take a sheaf of creased and dog-eared photos: sunlight on a shaded porch, the roots of orchids parting the air. The man and woman seated next to each other but smiling only with their eyes.
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.