It was midsummer, with the figs starting to come in.
Mornings, she'd go out and walk beneath the laden
branches, a plastic bowl in one hand. It took a few
moments to adjust to the latticed light, the
overlapping shadows that the broad leaves made.
Then she could make out the deep purple globes,
how they looked like light bulbs; how when ripest,
all it took was a simple twist and they'd fall
into her hand, releasing a drop of milky sap.
Returning in the afternoon, it seemed the fruit
only half-ripe earlier in the day had become ready:
soft to the touch, nearly flayed open to bursting.
Some, already shrines to the steady pilgrimage
of ants. Green to purple, hard-shuttered to
permeable. And still they did not cease.
Rilke said: “A world will come over you, the
happiness, the abundance, the incomprehensible
immensity of a world." But how to give such a world
to those reduced to begging for it in the streets?
One could tuck a whole fig in one's cheek and steal
out of the garden. Green, purple, flesh that the
knife scores and quarters. Hunger that asks again
and again to be filled. Pulled from the branch,
another bursts forth to take its place.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (website) 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 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.