Cities of Gold

In legends I know, the heavens are many-
layered. Cloud rats skitter there,

and flying squirrels. An orange tree
felled at the beginning of time

branched into veins leafed with copper
and gold ore where it hit the ground.

To this day, miners search for its
bright fruit by tunneling into the dark

on their bellies: no safety harnesses,
sometimes no headlamps. Only a second

sense that ticks through the loam
toward El Dorado, storied city

whose blueprint cannot be ascertained.
Among these stones, warriors once stalked

enemies, returning to their villages
with trophies of heads dangling from

their hands. They dunked and washed these
in the river, then lopped off and boiled

the jaws down to bone— A brass gong
adorned with this polished handle vibrated

with such unearthly power: even the grass
blades shivered as if lacerated by wind.


In response to Via Negativa: Medusa, Boddhisatva.

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.

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