There were times you made it hard to come close, Mother: when a butter knife hissed across the table and you threatened to return me to where you really came from. Then there were those times you pronounced your eldest granddaughter unworthy, because you couldn't understand how anxiety could keep someone who really wanted to from getting a degree. There was the time you made me walk behind instead of beside you because I forgot the lines of music that would have made performance flawless. Perfection is a cruel mistress, Mother: when even a single hair fell into the stew or ragu, you'd throw out the entire dinner. In your kitchen only one could be queen, fit to salt or sweeten, make bitter or make rise; pronounce a mouthful good enough. To get there, I learned to hide my tears, dice onions into count- less piles; sizzle them with aplomb in my own pan, the heat all my own.
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.