When flying, it's possible to carry the cremated remains of a loved one in a TSA-approved urn that can be x-rayed. Usually it can't be checked in with the rest of your luggage. Some companies advertise that you can send them miniscule amounts of the cremains, which they'll turn into cloudy lockets tinted like amethyst or polished like pearl. You can simply put them into a pouch with the rest of your jewelry—more precious now than any resin or silver statement necklace. Why not just keep snippets of hair like the Victorians did, my husband asks— to the end, wary of rules, penalties, the red tape of forms. Or consider a record company which will press, for a fee, your ashes into a vinyl album. Moving over those places in the grooves, sometimes the needle will jump and make static, crackling sounds: your voice from the beyond, or simply the sound of matter (your own), poured into a sheet of PVC which could take a thousand years or more to decompose.
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.