You've always wondered how the dead eat and drink the offerings set out on the mantel without spilling a drop; how they peel the rind off fruit and pick the stringy membrane out from between their teeth. How do they sink into the couch without a sound, turn the pages of a book or newspaper or seal an envelope shut? You know they're near when your nape feathers with the memory of their touch, or when, in winter, a room fills with the faint smell of jasmines or ylang ylang. One of them manages to call for a taxi promptly at 6 without using the telephone; the driver, perplexed and then annoyed, finally drives away into the night. You've been taught not to worry about what they mean by lingering in doorways or returning. When they're ready to admit there's nothing more they desire here, nothing more they can or want to do, they'll prepare for gradual departure by tiptoeing around in your dreams until finally, one day, the room is only a room, the ticking in your ears just the clock; the charred smell only someone in the kitchen burning the toast.
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.