Don’t let the dogs smell your fear

Dear father, I remember when you
first said this to me: we were walking
along the road that led from Palma street

to the City Hall where you worked, and we passed
the pink house that no one ever lived in except
in summertime, when its rich owners came

from the big city and the wrought iron gates swung
open to their VW van and black Plymouth Barracuda—
They had no mastiffs on guard, but every other house

had a dog snarling and chained to the stoop;
and mangy strays that lurked in alleys might circle
our heels, their ribs like sad dry accordions

running out of air. My small hand in yours, a cry
ready to fly from my mouth: but you lowered your voice
and taught me to steady my walk, not to show them

the fluttering pulse like a moth they might tear
from the throat of my fear if I gave them a chance,
if I gave them the chance to come that near.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Series Navigation← MetroImmigrant Time →

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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