"...hill stations invariably owed their origin and development to colonialism." ~ Robert R. Reed There being no access at the time, soldiers snaked up the mountain chain with pickaxes, envisioning a crown of cathedrals, quonset huts of corrugated metal; schoolhouses built of stone and pine, where their long- skirted women would undertake the duty of teaching poor native children the difference between primer and bible, naked and clothed. On the grounds of the country club, a sanatorium once stood; there, after bouts of coughing blood, convalescents found a routine of tea, camphor, and bed rest favorable; as well as the cold shimmer of evenings in those hills, streaked like peacock fans. Now, the place which used to be my home all but creaks from within the hollows of over-tunneled gold and copper mines. Moss can only patch what hasn't been gutted by concrete and steel. The lake named after the famous architect spits out mud and boat rides; on its oily surface, a fleet of rotting swans with rusted oars. Inside those hills, perhaps there's still a hurt of cypress wind, the recitation of vesper bells, a love you thought would outstay the dark braids of distance. I took what little I could, when I could. I'll measure it out, try to make it last longer than the trace of a vanished scent.
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.