My mother is singing in a wheelchair in the garden of a nursing home. In the phone videos, she's slouched over but you can tell— if she could stand and stretch, her full height now would be no taller than her youngest grandchild's. The women and men there wear diapers, which often cause rashes. To grow old like this is to enter a country of humid interiors, a country where your own voice gets returned as an echo from the hills. Today the mail brought me coupons from a Chinese restaurant, a roof repair company, and a local crematory. The word comes from the Latin cremare which means to burn, consume by fire, incinerate a dead body until all that's let of it is ashes. It's what I imagine we will do for my mother when she dies, though I know l'll probably not be there when it happens. There are some types of flowers that close their petals during the day ahead of rain. It's what I'd also want for myself when it's my turn— when I can no longer sing, or say, or sign. ~ * The opening and closing of some flowers, associated with diurnal changes of temperature or light intensity (Merriam-Webster)
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.