When I'd misbehaved as child or broken
a lamp or plate, my mother would say
Do you want me
to return you to where you came from?
which made me stand stock still, squeeze
my brows together, confused from trying
to visualize what that might mean.
I'd heard whispers, jokes,
the kind that took one look at my dusky
skin and compared it to the fairer
ones in school: You
must have been picked from the garbage
bin. You must have floated out
of the murky river.
Whereas the Mayor's child was tucked
into bed at 8, but her nanny said
I could play
with her dolls if I liked,
until it was time for my parents to leave
the party. I combed their straight
yellow hair with my fingers
and took one of them for a walk
around the pool. I opened up
the face of a peach
hibiscus and turned it
into a boat. I pushed
the changeling out to sea
and waved goodbye,
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) was recently appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia (2020-2022). She is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). 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.