What was there before the map

Before he passed away, an interview
with one of the oldest survivors from
that time: What do you remember, Apu?

—Lemon groves, moss-slippered caves, terraced
plots for grain. The ancestors ate from plates
of beaten brass and gold. When soldiers came

to clear our land for their new city, they ordered us
to move our homes from the presidencia. We could live
farther away, on the outskirts. Or else they’d shoot

the animals: our chickens and pigs, our horses
and goats. How then could we continue honoring
the gods? They carved roads through our mountain

fastnesses, built churches and depots and schools.
They talked of all the great new changes coming
while quarry stones skittered down the gorge.


In response to Via Negativa: Colonial.

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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