Cento: Fire & Water

Who cleans the windowpane with her breath and stirs
the fire of the afternoon

scented with gardenias?
I’ve walked carefully through the colors of copper.

No possession accompanies us
when night drifts along streets of the city.
Not all windows open: that is the truth.

Now each of us is
a witness stand:

You should know that human limbs burn
like branches and branches like human limbs.

Who said that my country was green?
It took a long time to cover my body —

little boats grab onto them and row and row


Source texts:
Olga Orozco, “Ballad of Forgotten Places”
Jaime Manrique, “The Sky Over My Mother’s House”
Oscar Gonzalez, “Central America in My Heart”
Francisca Aguirre, “Penelope Unravels”
Amy Lowell, “Solitare”
Sara Borjas, “Lies I Tell”
Ilya Kaminsky, “Town Watches Them Take Alfonso”
Nicole Sealey, “In Defense of ‘Candelabra with Heads’”
Claribel Alegria, “Flowers from the Volcano”
Hafizah Geter, “Testimony”
Victoria Chang, “Dear P.”

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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