Please take one, says your host,
passing the basket of rolls. Before
you take it, you're supposed to unfold
your cloth napkin then fold it once more
across your lap so it resembles
a triangle, though the rectangle is
also a common and acceptable shape.
Water to your right, salad fork to
your left. All the hierarchies of silver-
and glassware, every item in its proper
place. And you're to tear off small
pieces of bread to butter sparingly—
though you prefer the ease of Lazy
Susans and all the dishes, family
style, ranged on its perimeter: one spin
to the hot pot, a quarter turn to three
pepper shrimp and crab legs, things
you need to pick up with your hands.
Don't you love the taste and smell
of sauce that lingers on your fingers,
even when all the dishes are taken away?
Only the prim little cups of tea remain,
and the crimped and folded cookies
waiting to give you your fortune.
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.