Healing

In the place where a large gum tree
used to cast its long shadow, two troughs
in the soil where they drove a stump grinder

and worked all of two mornings to take it down—
You can see networks of old roots, their hurts
unburied. When it rains for a week, they lie

in a humid brown slurry. The sky heaves
and I watch from a window, curled up
on the couch, rubbing the spot above

my right rib that pings with unfamiliar
ache. There are things I continue to learn
about myself: how sometimes I can’t bear

to be alone, and other times I long
for the silence in which I’m not required
to explain why I cut the meat completely

away from bone, or how I can stand
the wintergreen sting of bai hua yeow,
white flower oil, on my temples

and nape. Sickly all through my childhood,
I’d dream the orange plumes of ginger flowers
at the end of a tunnel lit by fever flame.

I’d pray through haze of garlic-pulp salves
for the spell of illness to break; for the clean
taste of water to rise at last in my veins.

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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