Kabocha

Knobbed, deep green, rippled and striped; squat
as old grandmother on her haunches, weeding
in the back garden then bringing back frilled

trumpet shaped flowers, pale yellow;
and green tendriled shoots to drop into a broth
simply flavored with shrimp or fish—

this is the variety I think of when the season
turns to all things pumpkin. Being what we were,
descended on both sides of Ilocanos famous

for their thrift, in the kitchen every part
of every animal, vegetable, or mineral
was ripe for sacrifice to the gods

of our insatiable hunger: neck bones
for soup, skin for crackling, the orange
heads of shellfish bursting with fat

for sauces and sautés. Watermelon rinds
were carved into scrolls and left to sit
in syrup baths, and the rinds of bitter

melon pickled in cold brine. What the tongue
might not at first muster, it would learn
in time. More than chemistry, an alchemy:

after all, this was always about transformation—
how the poverty of one state could aspire
with prodding to something softer,

sweeter, richer. How a round of boiled
kabocha, mashed with a fork over a plateful of rice,
might acquire something of a runny egg’s gold resplendence.

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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