In the snack aisle at Grand
Mart, a grandmother in loose
sweatpants is holding a Kleenex
over her mouth while looking through
the foil packets of Boy Bawang
and adobong mani. It is the afternoon
we hear about all the schools
extending spring break by one
more week, then shifting to online
only teaching. My daughter's friends
text to say they won't be going back
to their dorms or colleges until maybe
April; but who knows? No one here
looks like they're panic buying—
just bunches of spring onions, carrots
the size of your forearm. Bok choy,
mushrooms packed in styrofoam
trays. All of us have our favorite
spices, a penchant for some
kind of food with such a delicious
stink: natto, kimchi, bagoong.
We are trying to live life
like it is normal as always.
We are trying to feel brave,
to calm the alarms in our brains
and under the skin. We admire
how a store clerk in the corner
is slowly and methodically stacking
beautiful red bell peppers, one on top
of the other, in a circle that rises
up and up and out of the bin.
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.