Death March

Bataan, 1942

Small, dark pucker in the skin at the end of his left
pinky finger— Growing up, I never knew the details,

did not associate that cleft shaped like a dry
asterisk in my father’s hand with the long

march in April: hundreds of men in the aftermath
of Pearl Harbor, stumbling toward prisoner-of-war

camps, prodded by bayonets. He never said anything
about how he came to be singled out, how some

blade must have sang high before plucking the nail
out of his flesh; how the pulp fresh in the scar

made him swoon. All wars, I remember him saying,
are most of all the deprivation of spirit. Animals

roamed the countryside, unloosed from the plow, evicted
from barns; or caught, they dripped and turned on a spit.

Through fitful sleep the prisoners heard roosters,
their raucous crow orange in the breaking dawn.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Routine.

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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