You keep your hands in them to get warm. You slip your hands into them when you don't know what else to do— a pose that supposedly conveys an air of nonchalance. A casual vibe. Like, I'm chill. Or Don't mind me, I'm just leaning against the wall here, trying to blend into the atmosphere. You've learned to stay just like this, especially when you're unsure of how to mix and mingle, make small talk; after a while, even the waiters walking around the room with little trays of hors d'oeuvres forget about you. In 1991, two German tourists came upon a mummified corpse frozen halfway to its chest in a pocket of ice, somewhere on the border between Austria and Italy. An archaeologist determined that this guy, christened Ötzi the Iceman, lived around the year 3,300 BCE. When he was found, he was still wearing a cloak of woven grass, shoes and leggings of animal skin. His belt had a pouch dangling from it— an outside pocket containing a flake of flint, an awl made of bone, some kind of scraper and drill, dried fungus. The contents of his stomach included partly digested food from at least two meals before he was killed: ibex meat, wheat, deer and chamois meat, herbs, roots, fruit. Inside the gastric pocket, he'd also harbored whipworms. And you could go on and on, exploring the body as if it were a bottomless hamper, an envelope of assorted curiosities. You feel around coat pockets and find lint balls, crumpled receipts, an old piece of gum; quarters, one half of a pair of lost earrings. In the early 1900s, there was something called a beer pocket inside a men's jacket or vest, expressly for carrying a bottle of alcohol. Women used to be able to carry a square of cloth, yarn or thread, keys and scissors in ample pouch pockets. But now, if women's clothes have pockets, they're so much smaller than men's. You'd think someone decided they'd better not be hiding any secrets, better not be given extra space of any kind.
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.