Gypsum and karst my consonants; pine and mountain-fed streams, my vowels. My syntax and speech of copper-mined and gold- veined hills; the craggy, rain-soaked vowels that won’t stop stippling the ceilings. My tutors: stonecroppings and terraces, ochre-traced sunflowers; the flint-tapping call of the mountain shrike. My avatars: stick shift jeepneys, five of them crowded into two-lane roads. My aubades from hot bean curd vendors, the molasses of their song. Vesper of unfertilized duck eggs tucked into warming cloths. In the oldest café, click of chess pieces and rumor of coffee grounds mingled with eggshell bits. In the distance, ghosts of Dominican friars and Kempeitai walking ruined labyrinths. My countrymen: low-moving cloud rats; carnival queens and Benguet lilies. My harbor of monsoons and February cabbage-frost. Monuments, mudslides and bus graveyards; soft gauze of mummy scarves. My conjugation of vegetable carts, hefts of burlap slung into the air. I walked across the city as if from the front of a small monograph to the very end then turned the pages again, my feet leaving trails of inky sludge.
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.