"Love that converses with me in my mind, he then began, so sweetly that the sweetness sounds within me still." ~ Dante asks Casella to sing; Purgatorio, Canto II, Lines 112-114  Sunrise, airy on ivory sheepskin— Botticelli has sketched the scene of a hundred souls arriving on a boat ferried by an angel who tips them out as the vessel runs aground. What's hell, or even this purgatory, if it isn't brushed with fire or tinted with the darkest hues of suffering? And these beings, stripped of their usual garments for swifter conveyance from our more familiar world of trappings, supposedly are singing. A kind of choir, stumbling into the pale light, asking for directions; unsure of what they've been told—that waiting is already a kind of salvation— for it's hard to imagine a sweetness withheld or yet to come. And so, when the shade of Cato shouts in rebuke What is this negligence, what lingering is this? still, it's such agony to peel away from the warm nest of arms that so freshly embraced them; from those that beat their breasts or tore their hair as their beloveds passed through the watery veil, scattering like flocks of birds.
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.