...We are learning how to care for the dead, each in our own way. ~ Brian Turner They are so young, so patient: the three who give eight hours of each day to caring for our mother, our grandmother, because we can't be there ourselves. They take turns dampening her skin, changing her diapers, urging sips of water and blended Cerelac and banana; laying a cool cloth on her forehead in answer to the sometimes fevers. This is the stage called the end of life: we read that the body starts to need less and less of what it relied on for decades, flesh trimming away excess until we can almost discern the keel on which the hull was laid, the delicate bones of the wrist laddering up to the fingers. In phone videos, she shakes her head or calls the names of her ghosts; sometimes she has no clue. We say no more to the constant drawing of blood, to the checking of sugars. The body is folding into itself like its own prayer, heedless of time however long the transit.
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.