In Theodor De Bry's "Indians
Planting Corn" (1590), the field
is a quilt or rows of dominoes,
and the natives also resemble
nothing like themselves. The men
wear loincloths and bend over the sod
with round-tip shovels that seem
to have melted in the heat. The women
with short fringed skirts walk in a semi-
circle as though around an invisible
maypole, their hands holding seeds,
making cupped gestures. Why do they look
like Venus rising from the foam, ringleted
hair cascading over napes and shoulders?
I do not see a single Indian here. Or
the artist has made them victims
of body-snatchers. The only brown tint
is from the ink of the engraving or yellowed
parchment. Only the woman in the foreground
displays both breasts in the way that either
heathens in need of saving do, or
alabaster goddesses with no arms.
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.