They call it a hearing instead of a suspension or sentencing. Every institution maintains they've followed procedure— professionally, dispassionately. Abided by the code or the book, whose provisions are conveniently undergoing revision. They dispense with the need for a transcript or recording, and tell you to rely instead on the undependability of hand- scribbled notes. You may bring a witness at the last minute, one who is not allowed to speak or otherwise make his presence known. They're counting on you to not anticipate where the blow has come from; to not have the presence of mind nor patience to comb through hundreds of pages of rules for loopholes. It might astound them that someone like you, far from the top of the known pecking order, decides to open her mouth to read a statement, moving confidently from one point to the next. In the un- seen gallery the ancestors sit, minding their behavior. They include the grandfather who was a magistrate in his prime, and once threw out a counselor for noisily snapping gum; and the great- grandmother, who ate of the fruit of the magical kingdom before allowing herself to be led away. The spirits have agreed it would be unwise to get kicked out now, just for the feeble pleasure of booing or heckling the proceedings. They throw their voices like darts into your throat, so your words expand in timbre but keep an even and ongoing pitch. Whatever you lose, it won't be a galaxy. Even dead stars burn brilliant beams in the dark.
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.