"Naming, however kind, is always an act of estrangement." ~ Aracelis Girmay brown the soil, brown the sand we call sable that water paints before it recedes into itself; brown the shutters of heaven from which the eyes of ancients regard the world they left with us. brown the sides of wooden ships swelled with elegies of blind ambition, so certain of following the fateful stars. brown the beautiful bark of cassia shavings, the dark- tipped nails of clove, the red-tinged roots of galangal. burnish the sides of brass hawk bells until you can no longer tell their gleam from gold. the reefs are lined with coral, the straits with subterranean eyes and mangrove roots. crack open a rock to learn of lineage— turn up the earth, run your brown fingers along the burns and fading scars.
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.