~ after Li-Young Lee In another land, I used to know you only in one form— drenched in syrup, packed 6-8 halves to a can; unnatural gold, firm at first to the bite, tufted cup sometimes still faintly rouged with pink where hands pried the pit loose in a factory, perhaps somewhere in the south where I now live. But I never knew the way light fell through orchards at dusk or dawn, how the smells of ripening mingled with dust, or if every fruit picker in this country still looks like me. I read a Chinese folk tale of a boatman who lost his way and wound up in a village fenced from time, suspended in peach blossoms— The story says, everyone who forgets what such happiness is like, loses the chance to be immortal. I also know a poem that gave me a peach before I ever bit into the actual flesh of one: that traced its provenance before a boy at a roadside stand dropped them, still warm from the sun, into a paper bag. And thus I learned how words, too, conjure the same sugar and skin, how they dapple in both shadow and sunlight. As for what is impossible and what we find we can hold in our hands, it should always be a bittersweetness, tasting the gift which comes from seed we did not sow ourselves.
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.