Dear weather warning, you sound the alarm instructing us to put away deck chairs, lower umbrellas in the event of a gale. Onscreen, clouds of many colors move across the map, thick patches of red-orange driving heavy rainfall from Georgia to the Carolinas to Virginia. You rouse us from sleep with a hallucination of sound: an onrushing train for which we will need to remember, in our panic haze, whether or not this is the time to stop, drop, and roll or the time to climb into a bathtub and drag a mattress for putting over our heads. Dear red flag, dear signal of our coming distress—there is only so much we can pack into a cooler or a backpack or the trunk of a car. Should the ocean crest its barriers or fire leap from mountain to mountain, licking the roofs of houses before exhausting its unpredictable career, some of us will be part of an exodus glimpsed from the air as a slow- moving chain of bodies. Some of us will stay, not knowing where else to go but into the eye of the storm. Dear tragedy, dear heartbreak scenario, I understand that. I too would rather be plunged quick and whole or even unlimbed into the depths of the sea, rather than under a schoolroom desk, cowering as a fury of bullets picks out targets one by one as if our children were nothing but toys.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (website) is the 2023 Immigrant Writing Series prize winner for Caulbearer: Poems (due out from Black Lawrence Press in 2024), and 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.