The woman in the checkout line is taking her groceries out of a cart. Ahead of her, a man who could be her son, hair also greying at the temples, hefts the larger items onto the counter: packs of bottled water, a box of navel oranges. When she touches his shoulder to say she would like to pay, the ovals of her nails shine like nacre at the ends of gnarled fingers. Perhaps she's held jobs requiring the constant use of hands: typist, stenographer; cook, seamstress, factory finisher, welder. Perhaps their blue- veined maps were merely inked by a lifetime of domestic labors, a lifetime of smoothing the creases and soothing the burns of everyday life for others. That he gently pats her hand and gives the cashier his card for these transactions is simply what it is, as well as the whole world. And how, exiting the store, the one that goes ahead used to be the one that followed or only walked beside.
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.