There are those who say I have no culture or I have no [history] by which they mean [they believe] a lineage [begins] in the aftermath of war and not before It takes centuries for smoke [to clear] enough of an opening Ghosts return as night folds again The fragrance of laurel leaf interposes between one page and another You can barely discern which hand [wrote, erased, revised—] But everyone comes from somewhere Is coughed up from the damp belly of a ship onto shore Count the notches carved into wood One for each [departure or arrival] Lay your palms where children and adults shuffed down a gangplank holding in their hands pictures of their lungs The spore of a potato from the old country hidden in a trouser cuff Salt-smell clinging to each collar Every mouth holding on to syllables that once made the only sense Each one [from]
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.