Even now, at what we believe is near the end, my mother is what kids today might describe as #fighting, A month in the hospital and she's rallied and flailed, flailed and rallied. Through intravenous feeding, oxygen delivery, antibiotics, everything short of TPN. Who is Patty? my cousin and the nurses ask. My mother has been calling the names of the dead, names of the living, names of all the remembered ghosts in her life. Perhaps more than death or dying, the ghost of our own approaching absence is the most difficult piece of the puzzle. She still knows the difference between the clothed and naked body, how the taste and texture of water on the tongue disappears like a stolen jewel. Once, she fashioned for me an ugly name in a second baptism meant to confuse and repel the gods. She embroidered it on towels and the inside of my collars as she mouthed it like a spell. Sometimes, I still start at my shadow on the wall, blue and sick from being shorn from light.
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.