who sits with her shoulders above
the clouds, goats and tin-roofed
houses dotting the hills of her
green quilted lap. But even in waking,
there's always some state of emergency.
Drought, a flood, animals trying
to surface from out of oil-
marbled waters; famine, war. Even so,
it seems I can deal with those parts
better than the one in which she squeezes
her breasts so the milk flowing out
turns into rice. Rice-rain pours
down every granary, and the people hold
rice feasts, make rice wine, feed pap
to babies tired of sucking on
old, dry-knuckled fingers.
But hunger is always hungry; it won't
ever be appeased. I weep from the dream
where she squeezes so hard that blood
flows out of her breasts, wild red
rice still highly prized to this day. I ache
from the effort she made and the thought
of sacrifices that never end.
You can smell it in the air: the deep
wells of our sadness, the fog a milky
bandage covering the gutted earth.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (website) is the 2023 Immigrant Writing Series prize winner for Caulbearer: Poems (due out from Black Lawrence Press in 2024), and 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.