Letter to Myself, Reading a Letter

Yellowing aerogramme passed from hand
to hand, creases striped with naphthalene dust,

salt-tang over sleepy villages— here’s
the broken line of hills, the sweep of coast

caught in a curl of cursive, shadowed
cul-de-sac of consonants bent at elbow

and knee. I’ll never know again the knotted
lace of curtains behind which we as children hid,

convinced the sounds behind the heavy doors
were the dead coming to claim our souls.

Here in a sunlit house not my own, I polish
the furniture and floor with oils smelling of fruit

until the heart of the wood is glossy
as an oriole’s song, and the rooms

where you come to me again
are a palace of leaves. Summer light,

thick as honey, pooling in squares at our feet:
we ask to be touched, before being taken.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Series Navigation← RedolenceNight-leaf Tarot →

Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) 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 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. 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.

6 Replies to “Letter to Myself, Reading a Letter”

  1. This is really gorgeous, Luisa. Wow. I especially love the first few couplets, the way you move from description of the letter (I can almost feel it in my hand) to description of the landscape and back again.

  2. Ditto to what Rachel and Peter said, and I was also grooving on your use of the words naphthalene, tang, aerogramme and cul-de-sac. As is often the case, it came as a very pleasant shock to suddenly encounter some phrases of my own in the midst of such a poem.

  3. Summer light, /thick as honey, pooling in squares at our feet:/ we ask to be touched, before being taken.


    Take a look at this strophe, Stick, and weep.
    If that’s not a tease, I know it is poetry. How so?

    Summer light in squares thick as honey catches
    us aquiver with blends of what eyes can see

    that tongues can lick, a melange of what rooms
    can become when—as palaces of leaves—they

    transform into sylvan hideaways engulfing
    all who are bewitched by redolent fragrance

    come like warm palms caressing cold backs
    that must be touched. Poems are made of these,

    Stick, like a strange amalgam of brew salving
    the hurt and the lonesome before they sleep.

    I need that brew tonight, Stick, before I sleep.

    —Albert B. Casuga

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