Invisible Ones

“Ten thousand joys, ten thousand sorrows— which are more beautiful…”

~ Nic S.

During the Great Depression, the countryside
was full of them— stooped over rows of asparagus,
garlic, and strawberries; elbow-deep in scales
and guts as salmon silvered conveyor belts,
carpeted the canning factory floor. Every so often
a hand— maybe a finger— nicked by blades
cutting fast: for industry is virtue and the harvest
of all these great American dreams, warmed by the sun
and striped fat with flavor, must be gleaned.
Pasteurized, purchased, they leap from farm
and river to waiting tables so in iconic paintings,
rosy-cheeked children can bow their heads in prayer
over clean porcelain and heavy silverware,
while their elders pass lakes of mashed potato
and the bronzed carcass of a bird from hand
to hand. In greasy spoon diners and fast
food places across town, look closely
at the face of the lonely busboy wiping down
the oily counter, at the waitress who’s just
learned English, balancing a pot of coffee
and a tray of dirty dishes in her hands.


In response to Via Negativa: Unmentionable One.

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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