Saturdays then, no school,
just chores and homework; or
practicing scales, then walking
to the store with our 3 boarders
who wanted to buy coconut jam.
I don't know when father and mother
decided to take in lodgers, or how
they found this particular group,
all attending the local university.
They were beautiful and leggy; and,
having come from Bangkok, everything
they said sounded like the fluted
sounds of tongues trying out
English in another country
where English was not the first
language either. They humored
me, awkward child with thin arms
and scars down my legs, curious
about the mysteries of the curling
iron and the manicure set: in turn
I adored them as older sisters
might perhaps be adored, though I
wouldn't know, as I didn't have
any. When they left, as we knew
they would, I was back to being
by myself: fading into the back-
ground with a book in my hands,
watching as the grownups combed
their hair or put on lipstick,
put on clothes for going out.
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.