In every town, a public square and monuments
whitened in patches by lime and bird droppings;
streets and bridges named after those who came
in galleons. They banished to the outskirts
shamans and native priestesses, then pressed
plow and yoke onto the farmers' backs. Next
came the building of churches and cathedrals,
fantasy of fountains and pulpits painted over
with clouds of putti and gold. An altar boy
would set the censer into its little dialectic
swing: forward and back, curling clouds
of incense smoke until it came to rest again.
The walls, it's said, were set with agramasa---
a paste of mortar: powdered brick, sand, ground
husks, the whites of hundreds and hundreds of eggs.
The oldest of these still stand, down to their bell
towers: crumbling like sugar paste, but somehow
made almost desirable in their surrender to time.
The footnotes we write, the margin notes, will say
we come to hate and love what history has made of us.
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.