She was but the daughter of a farmer who owned a small
tract of land, a hat with a brim, one good white suit—
And he was the son of a man he knew only by name and the long
stub of ash before it fell from the cigarette into the tray—
And she on the other hand was a child when her mother expired
in that unfortunate flowering of war, when a soldier ran
a bayonet through her brother’s heart— There in the field,
that wound pried open in the shape of a gaping mouth—
Even now, they recount how long lines of men walked
south and farther south in the heat— For days
furtive foraging in paddies for snails and frogs,
for draughts of water thickened with mud— For days
their hands, roped and stacked behind their heads—
Pliable like leaves and tender, the shoots
you couldn’t guess you could mash with your teeth
and hold like a shield against the roof of your mouth.
In response to Via Negativa: Invitation to the mouth.
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.