* Who are you and whom do you love? When I find out the truth about my birth, I already have two children of my own. * What do you remember about the earth? I am six and the terrible grandmother has come to live with us. She smells of tobacco and the green eucalyptus- mint Valda pastilles she is always popping into her mouth from a tin hidden in her robe pocket. A game I like to play with some of the neighborhood kids involves taking turns putting Necco wafers in each other's mouths while intoning "The body of Christ." We are careful not to bite down so as not to cause the body of Christ to bleed. Then we walk around the grassy perimeter of the truck yard pretending we are floating, until the candy has melted and our tongues turn lime green, orange, or pink. * How will you begin? A book about mountains, and roads carved into them by hand. A book made of animal offerings suspended in the trees. A book about salt blocks left in the valley for deer. * Describe a morning you woke without fear. I am in third grade. I am standing in the bathroom in front of the mirror, swiveling the tiny little bit of bone that's been lodged for as long as I can remember in my upper gum, right above a front tooth, back and forth. When it finally comes loose, I hold it between my index finger and thumb. * Tell me what you know about dismemberment. When I first come across the word "debridement," I pronounce the middle vowel as a long ī. As in bride. Because one of my daughters is taking a Women's Studies course on sex and marriage, I try to recall what I learned at her age about such things. It was a time when feminine products were unwieldy things: a bulk of cotton wrapped with gauze, safety-pinned to the crotch of underwear. Mostly, my mother told me to behave while handing me a copy of On Becoming A Woman, a book written and published in 1951 by a male doctor. The cover depicted a brunette with what might have been described as a becoming flush on her cheeks, walking past two young men in suits. The one sitting on a bench has two-tone saddle shoes on his feet. The other, standing, sports a bow tie. Both of them are obviously looking her up and down. Checking her out. She is definitely aware. [Note: as a lead-in to the 12-year anniversary Sunday, 20 November 2022, of my writing at least a poem a day, I decided to use Bhanu Kapil's famous "12 Questions" as a prompt. There are the first six. My students in Advanced Poetry Workshop and I have been using it too, also because one of our course texts this semesteer was Chen Chen's Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency— he also uses "12 Questions" for a number of poems in his new book.]
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.
One Reply to “Six Questions”