FIRST NIGHT: IN MOTHER’S HOUSE
Stay, she says, plumping up pillows
on a makeshift bed. The window frames
are painted red, the rough floor
thin with yawning gaps
through which I can hear
the wind razor through
crowded houses on the hill.
The rain is overgenerous
and doesn’t stop. I count
the frames she’s nailed up, willy-
nilly, on the wall—Pictures
I painted when I was a girl:
rivers and expansive fields,
still lifes, canvases suffused
with roses, bright lemons fallen
from a faceted crystal bowl:
metaphor too for the old
life we used to have. And though
I could have, I did not visit
the street where, a lifetime ago,
we’d made our home—
I feared I couldn’t bear the sight
of ruin; or worse, of empty space.
Days later, when we rode past,
I was grateful for the new
gas station and the downpour,
relentless, that obscured the view.
—from Maps for Migrants and Ghosts © Luisa A. Igloria
LUISA A. IGLORIA is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Poetry Competition for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (forthcoming, September 2020, from Southern Illinois University Press); and the author of 14 books of poetry, most recently The Buddha Wonders If She Is Having a Mid-life Crisis. Awards include the May Swenson Prize and the Resurgence Poetry Prize, the world’s first major ecopoetry award. She is a Louis I. Jaffe Professor and University Professor of English and Creative Writing in the MFA Program at Old Dominion University; she also teaches at the nonprofit Muse Writers Center in Norfolk, VA. Her work has appeared in journals like Orion, The New England Review, Poetry, Poetry East, Shenandoah, Crab Orchard Review, Lantern Review, and Cha.
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