It's that time of year again: hurricanes rise out of heated beds of seawater and arrow toward the Gulf Coast, wide flamenco skirts whipped to billowing and swishing—their frothy mass like lace coming apart in tatters. People will board up store fronts and ocean-facing windows, pray that this year won't be worse than last. But rain fell for the first time in recorded history at the highest point on Greenland's ice sheet—and still, scientists say it's probable that this is a sign of global warming. At the bank on a Friday afternoon, the woman helping us fill out payable-on-death forms has a demeanor both cheerful and practical. Under the sleeves of her robin's-egg- blue blazer, on one wrist she wears a fitness tracker, and on the other, a medical bracelet. And we understand— none of what we're there for is necessarily morbid: we're only trying to limit some of the unknowns and probabilities that those who survive us would have to struggle through, if we didn't take this opportunity to prepare. We don't know what ancient viruses might even now be waking up beneath melting glacier waters, their crags once silvery as the hair on my mother's head. I can't know if I'll ever see her again—not through a screen— in her lifetime or mine; or if I'll dance in the arms of my love to celebrate the passing of one or two more decades. But after we sign our names on the dotted lines and walk back into the burning afternoon, I tell myself this is what lightness must feel like, after shearing off one more thing.
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.