They come into the light drawn by votives floated on water. Gold flame of candles, our mouthed prayers; banners painted for protest marches in the aftermath of their deaths— For years to come they'll eat the offerings we leave on makeshift altars: spaces cleared on top of the TV stand, the tiled counter next to the sink, a subway entrance, a street corner— When a butterfly When a bird of a different color When a residue of ash forms the hand- drawn shapes of their names When a pattern of lifted fish scales makes a trellis on the body— Memory makes a silk knot in the vein. Memory rushes away, sure of its going; escort now to the migratory flock. In the wood, the trees only appear identical. The moon when it rises scatters words of mother-of-pearl. Memory finds the rusted padlock, the boarding pass; the wooden plank, the plastic gun in the park. Notice how a blade of grass, held against skin, is both soft and sharp enough.
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.