The Hand Pushes the Needle Through the Splice

“For three times, by the violence of the wind and sea, we were turned back; and the fourth time, without any contrary wind, we remained motionless for more than an hour, although our caracoa had ninety barrigas.”

~ The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898 — Volume 27 of 55 1636-37: Explorations by Early Navigators, Descriptions of the Islands and Their Peoples, Their History and Records of the Catholic Missions, as Related in Contemporaneous Books and Manuscripts, Showing the Political, Economic, Commercial and Religious Conditions of Those Islands from Their Earliest Relations with European Nations to the Close of the Nineteenth Century

My great strength is my great weakness:
rare spice saved for the special occasion,

saffron the sibling of gold. On any other day
its rougher relatives, say salt, or pepper.

Luxury of milk, extravagance of butter,
dwindling stocks once new from the field:

I’ve saved this much, small stores of things
packed tight in the hold, a line of vessels

traveling in convoy down a channel
of traitorous years. Flags of stars

furled tighter than fists until the one
sitting at the prow pushes the marling spike

through the braid, opens her heart and heaves
her heartsick songs full into the wind.


In response to small stone (258).

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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.

1 Comment

  1. A richly visual poem, packed tight with meaning, heavy with memory. Thank you Luisa.


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