Anosmia, Hyposmia—lately, I learned these are the loss of smell and taste, respectively: not the names of minor goddesses in ancient mythology, nor of their attendants in waiting. How sad to wake in one's bed unable to detect that someone is in the kitchen making toast, eggs and bacon, or greasy sausages. Sadder still, to sit at the table only to find a formerly luxurious pat of butter as well as a caramelly cup of your favorite coffee are in- distinguishable from mouthfuls of wet cardboard. But even these are bearable in contrast to rapid decline and death. In the Exodus story, the people fled Egypt and the ten plagues, which scholars have theorized could have included airborne bacteria and disease— even some early form of climate change which poisoned the rivers and killed all the fish and frogs. And yet, crossing the barren desert, they had quail and manna, which they likened to coriander seed or honey. Then and thereafter, heroic crossings are marked with strife and deprivation. On the long ocean voyage they took to get to another version of a promised land, Bulosan wrote of how some of his cohort of pensionados and migrant workers resorted to softening torn newspaper pages in water, which they chewed slowly if only to trick their hunger. It might be said that toward the end of their journey, language was their only sustenance. The fields waited, and hard labor in the soil. Among them, some were chroniclers of all they saw and tasted.
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.