Everywhere is heart-rending wail,
everywhere consternation, and death
in a thousand shapes . . .
Lie back down in the earth
next to the stones and roots—
A wind has blown open all
the doors of the house.
Cabinet doors have come
unhinged; ripped floorboards
have upended the furniture.
No one can speak directly
of what happened here.
But we cannot set a table
straight again. It hurts
to lie in the grass
as night with its thousand
perforations engulfs you.
the way fields look right after gleaning,
the way a city looks in the early hours
when at last the restaurants and pubs are closing
and the workers who have collected their tips
make their way to this place they know
(workers only) where you can get the red-eye special,
chilaquiles, or caldo like someone’s mama
used to make back in the day; coffee, eggs on toast
with sriracha—Never fevered but always
at a pitch, the way the temperature of a body
that has known nothing but to be in flight
would melt the ice on the porch just standing still—
For such is the life of the never here, never there,
the ones with such beautiful names—of course
they come from other worlds right here
within our own: Quarmaine, whose single
rhinestone earring chimes its light along
with the cash register’s as he rings up the goods
but pauses to ask how to make wontons, which
he adores. And Ravi, who packs my groceries,
listening as I list ingredients and describe
with my fingers how to pull the moist
corners of each square into a kind of bud.
And I say drink the soup when it’s scalding hot,
make lots of it to share—For it is always never dark,
or never light, or never something or other enough;
it’s never good enough, we are never going to be
good enough for whatever it is the jurors say it is
this time around, sitting in a circle like trees
that ring the frozen pond, their branches
heavy with the weight of all that sifted cold.
Luisa A. Igloria is one of two cowinners of the 2019 Crab Orchard Poetry Open Competition for her manuscript Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (forthcoming from Southern Illinois University Press in September 2020). In 2015, she was the inaugural winner of the Resurgence Prize (UK), the world's first major award for ecopoetry. She teaches on the faculty of the MFA creative writing program at Old Dominion University, which she directed from 2009–2015. • Photo by Chuck Thomas