Of rhizomes, those systems of roots and stems spreading in soil underground; how they hold on to their hoard of nutrients and starches to keep the plant alive even through long, hostile seasons— Perennate: what they do to survive the in-between time after leaves have dwindled to rot and all the fruit that can be gathered from the trees are kept in dry, cool cellars or boiled till their bright silk dissolves into syrup. I sense them unfurl beneath, latticing their nodes against the long darkness ahead and lacing pale fingers around rough skins. Of turmeric and ginger and the deep-tinted hearts of beet, the tight-curled fists of iris— I want to know how they can trust so completely in that idea of return, even as animals turn fields into stubble and bees begin their clustered pulsing to give their heat to the hive. Here, where we feed each other to keep alive, I am wary and always watching for any sign you might slip away without me into that room soundproofed with loam, un- windowed: for how would I break its walls without breaking?
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.