Tenderness

While I was young, I did not know
the name of the plant that climbed up
the outer walls of our first house—

but it prospered. I knew from the way
the thorns grappled for every space

on the stalk, aiming for the distant
papery heart outlined in cream and russet.
I still search for it, though I’m told

it thrives best in warmer climes. When
the wind whispers, the buds close in

upon themselves: I don’t blame them.
But when you’re meant to carry fire, you
close the doors and carefully mark off

the place corresponding to the gut: it’s soft
and hollow. It’s hungry and it feeds you.

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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