De uvas a peras, meaning once
in a blue moon, or rarely. From
grapes to pears, then summer's harvest
gone. Only their bottled essence left
to warm us in the doldrums of winter.
Uvas de la suerte: wine-red, eaten
at midnight on New Year's Eve
for luck; a centerpiece of 12
round fruits for a year of sweet
fortune. When I was young,
mother peeled the skins
of grapes, sliced them in half
to pick out the little pips.
Which is not to say that this
should be filed under the heading
of useless labors: how are we to know
it wasn't what saved us from untimely
choking deaths? Ubas, we called them;
from the Spanish, tongue that lay
underneath so many of the words
we used. Rarely did we think
of what names we must have given
things before Magellan's galleons
sailed into our waters, naming
the world he found there--- ours---
as though he were some kind of god
stumbling on a new paradise. And we,
the unintelligible, background marks
on landscape; bright clustered noise
overhead, birds with colors rarer than
jewels, their songs that could stun
unworthy listeners into stone.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (website) is the 2023 Immigrant Writing Series prize winner for Caulbearer: Poems (due out from Black Lawrence Press in 2024), and Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). She was appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia for 2020-22, and in 2021 received 1 of 23 Poet Laureate Fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Mellon Foundation. She 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 former US Poet Laureate 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; she also teaches classes at The Muse Writers’ Center in Norfolk. 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.