Oh old-fashioned cookie tins lightly engraved with a three-masted ship in full sail on a rough ocean, or sometimes a Currier and Ives shed and farmhouse with smoke curling from a chimney—I can't remember the taste of those thin biscuits layered in fluted paper cups inside, only that they were meted out with care so they could last beyond novelty or our hunger for something that smelled vaguely of another land. But after the last crumb was shaken out and the bottom wiped clean, my mother and aunt vied for one to repurpose into a sewing box: embroidery floss, hooks and eyes, little books with rows of needles stabbed into their raised cardboard shelf; and on top, their prized pair of scissors that I should never use, even for cutting paper. When they sewed together, heads bent close under a lamp, I put a thimble on each of my fingers in turn, or sorted buttons. They were so young then; not yet feinting or swinging, the waves of rancor in the years ahead not yet a sea pressing its claims on the shore; the vessels they bore— bringing either sustenance or ammunition, spools of thread, bales of linen.
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.