Summer shooter: father’s side

Shooter (slang): a small amount (called a shot) of liquor

In the summers, our house in the elbow
of the L that makes the alley, fills

with aunts and uncles from the capital—
distant cousins whose names I can never

get straight until two weeks later
or when they are about to leave.

While they’re there our home’s turned
upside down— mats and mattresses

spread on the living room floor,
constant pounding on bathroom doors.

Two card tables shore up each end
of the dining table, and the kitchen’s

awash in dishes. Mother grumbles
at how cheap they are— how they

can afford memberships at country clubs,
yet would rather stay with us so they won’t

have to pay for meals and lodging. I’m eleven,
but already I’ve had my period. Mother dresses me

in a caftan she sewed herself. I think it looks
like a giant pillowcase. I envy the ease with which

the nephews run around in khaki shorts and jeans.
They smell of suntan lotion and know how to swim.

I’m prone to headaches and acne, and when they’re mean
they call me “Tita Moon Base”— as if my brown face

were lunar, pockmarked with stations for their
unwelcome landing. One afternoon when I come to her

in tears, abruptly, she stops what she’s doing. Wiping
her hands on a dish towel, she leans toward me,

conspiratorial: Why don’t we leave them all for a while
and go to the movies?
We slip out without telling.

I can’t remember what film we watch; perhaps,
a comedy. And before we go in she buys a box

of chocolate. Each piece, foil-wrapped, liqueur-
filled, is shaped like a little bottle. We peel

and eat them one by one, and laugh through the show.
When we emerge from the theatre, evening has fallen.


In response to Via Negativa: After jousting.

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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