Archipelago as sentence punctuated by water

“I want to look at my hands. I want to say something in the language of the ocean, the language of the rain.” ~ Kazim Ali

Ask me about anything else: how the night is a quiet carpet of stars, how the memory of water is preceded by a chorus of frogs. Don’t keep asking where I earned my degree, where I went to school, how I learned to speak such good English, if I’ve published anything. The moths make a swish around a pool of light, and it doesn’t matter. We love what we love, at noon or in the darkness. We can’t help who we are. Don’t correct my grammar just so you can find something to say. Don’t tell me about your stint abroad and how you had a live-in maid; or the unbelievably low rent for your apartment. In the country, past dusk, we learn to drive so as not to startle deer into leaping straight into the headlights. There is one time when the animal is mortally wounded. On our part, a twisted side mirror as casualty. There are many names for a woman who calls a spade a spade, a scoundrel what he deserves. And I’m broken about how today, in Manila, the Chief Justice is ousted from the Supreme Court. At a party someone turns to me and asks me to check her neck and arms for ticks. There’s nothing there on her creamy skin. You walk through a field and think wildflowers. You walk through a street that isn’t packed with bodies, that isn’t surrounded by riot police. How many countries can you name, where movie stars become congressmen or senators? Erect statues for the ones who have the most number of mistresses, the most number of children from different partners. Name the last country in the world in which divorce is still illegal. I want to deliver the mail where the language of bribes is always trying without success to impersonate the rain.

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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