For the subaltern, every word is an umbrella

~ after Harrison Forman, “Igorot Woman Carring Harvest on Northern Luzon Island, Philippines”

Charol: what we called patent
leather— its bright, high gloss

most desired for children’s First
Communion footwear and men’s dress

shoes. Mongol: most popular brand of
No. 2 pencils, thereafter the name

for every yellow-painted stick of graphite
with which we wrote our lessons. Or ballpoint

pens, all of them in our minds called Bic.
Until my father quit smoking cold turkey,

he’d ask someone to buy Marlboros for him
at the corner store: the Salem Menthol kind.

Sometimes, without thinking, I’ll ask for
a tissue by saying Kleenex. The tongue’s

colonial lessons in renaming the world
sit undisturbed beneath a canopy of recent

layers: odd artifacts on shelves and tables,
next to each other in every room of the house.

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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