At a party,
in the humid dusk among people
I mostly don’t know: just as
the tray of mint chocolate brownies
is passed around, a man turns
to me: And where did you
do your graduate degree?
Let’s try that again.
At a party, in the living room
among academics she doesn’t know
very well: just as dessert is passed
around, a man in khaki shorts, sandals,
and a Hawaiian print shirt turns to her:
My wife and I used to live in HK.
One more time.
At the party, my focus sharpens
as the man who said he and his wife used
to live in HK suddenly discloses that he
was so disturbed about those tiny sleeping
quarters in apartments there— no bigger
really than for two or three pieces
of luggage. He wrote and published
an article about it.
A ten year war, or twelve, or twenty;
a century or more. A siege. A taking,
a taking over. Those subdued
are called the colonized.
On seeing the shade of Helen, Faustus
declaims that famous line: Was this
the face that launch’d a thousand ships/
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
On seeing my face,
others seem moved
to remember only their
encounters with maids.
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.