The word revenant comes from the French revenir: a coming back, meaning a person who has returned from the dead. In Spanish, a person who reappears in this way is a ghost: fantasma, espectro, aparición. My ghosts do not seem interested in only one form of return: ninuno, anino—all my forebears, the line of ancestors starting with those I knew and could see until they became photos in an album, traced back to those who lived in some shadowy level of the cloud canopy but wondered what life on the ground might do to hands and faces and mitochondria. Multo, related to muerto: disembodied souls who float around in basements or attics, send their music through the plumbing, their morse code through radiators and wind chimes. So many more felled by bullets or bayonet thrusts in the last world war: their bodies rolled in reeds, their decomposing fragrance an unmistakable note in the wind. There are not enough words for every kind of haunting, especially the ones that pass through us or sit without moving in the middle of our lives.
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.