(Agaonidae) The fig isn't a fruit but a hollow garden of flowers, according to an animated video explaining the mutualism between fig tree and wasp. A female wasp tunnels into the fruit's tight inflorescence through a puckered ostiole, her large ruby eyes intent upon the goal. Her wings will likely get shredded in passage, though some books describe how this is an insect so tiny it might slip with ease through a needle's eye. But here in this garden of inward- turning flowers, impossible corridors constrict her body like a vise. Almost without breath, she has to hurry and deposit her eggs, while shedding pollen she's carried from the fruit in which she was born. Before she dies, her offerings slip into pockets called galls. When it's time, these pods will release her children so they can start the cycle all over again: the males, wingless and blind, will mate with their sisters before carving for them a path out of the garden. Most males die before they themselves reach the gate. But the females who make it out follow the wind's warm scent, tracking down the next tree with fruit that must be nudged to full ripeness by these small offerings of death. And isn't it always like this? Cut one open: your tongue would still knowingly graze on sweetness, even among the dead.
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.
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