One summer, after a hard rain, the path was filled with mud and the bodies of hundreds of frogs. I waited to see if a row of them would suddenly get up in an orchestrated dance. Once I saw a YouTube of firecrackers carpeting at least a mile of a village road. From afar, they looked like mounds of old-time movie tickets. Someone lit one end; a smoke curtain advanced, its red hem an anger sputtering. From cities in the north and south, my daughter sends photos of pre-election rallies. Millions in the streets clad in pink, for the woman they're fighting for to become president. Her opponent combs and pomades his hair so he can look like the ghost of his dead father— Spitting image: hollow like the concrete monument in Tuba, its left ear bombed by rebels. A guy I knew in college wrote about it for a newspaper. It's been almost two decades since his abduction and disappearance. My mother told me she'd also gone to school with his father. I held that thought in my head awhile. There's an old picture I have, where my mother is bending over to give me a little push from behind as I work the pedals of a kiddy tricycle. The camera catches her exactly as she looks up and smiles. Here, she has not lost her teeth and she still has a perfect head of hair. I squint— but I am always squinting into the light. I wonder, has it always been so bright like this that I mistake the future for the past, tears shed along with laughter from those made in grief.
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.