First, Blood

This entry is part 38 of 73 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2011-12


Sudden and lovely, dangerous-looking: dark
crimson streaks that sketched their way down
the insides of my mother’s thighs, her calves,

too dark this ink that did not belong
on concrete walkway— Some brush
drawing these lines too rapidly

from deep inside, their meaning still
mostly inscrutable. I remember her pale
hand that clutched my tiny fist and the other

that let go of the market bag, to hail
a passing cab or jeepney— The next few days
in the hospital, that word I learned: hysterectomy,

the paring of the womb or of its parts. She lay
in bed or on the couch for a week afterwards,
and from here began my other lessons: gave me

dictation as I learned the ligaments to sever,
and rinsed the chicken parts for stew. My fingers
slid under rubbery skin and traced blue arteries

beneath. Water washed but could not quite
erase the ferrous smell, the hint of lichen
or peeled green that clasped the outer

edges of the sink. My senses mothered
by mother-blood, I understood when my
time came. Persephone clenched bright

teeth of the pomegranate under her tongue:
we need this kind of courage. Trembling, I
have scribed the first blood of the month

across my cheeks— waxy red like the lip of
the anthurium, pores stippled with anthocyanins
like the Moro or Sanguinello— body written,

body writing what it knows and does not know.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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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 (forthcoming, 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, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

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