GOING HOME TO A LANDSCAPE, Ten Years On: A Poem by Luisa Igloria

2013 is the 10-year anniversary of the publication of Going Home to a Landscape, the Filipino women’s anthology self edited with Virginia Cerenio, and which the wonderful folks at Calyx published.  Amazing.

Over and over, as self pored over the submissions, she was struck about the slipperiness of the concept “Home.”

The title could only have been thus (It was borrowed from a poem by Shirley Ancheta, whose two poems in the anthology were absolutely powerhouse)

Here’s one of the poems, Luisa Igloria’s “Chinatown, Moon Festival” :

The streets branch
like narrow harbors.
During flood time,
the waters rise here,
the color of dry crusts,
old amber, verdigris.

We tell ourselves we have come
in search of curly tree-fungi, seared
eggplants, bamboo shoots — a different
way to return vividness to the jaded
mouth. And because it is the moon’s
festival, we will return bearing
tins of cakes heavy with lotus
seed paste, a thin oil
oozing from the yellow of ducks
eggs, their gilded secret.

In the drugstore down the way,
vegetal roots and animal horns
lie peacably curled in their liquid
solutions. A wave of scent
washes over me — ginseng, hawthorn
root, dark plum, licorice stems.

I breathe it all in, and, breathing, walk
over the little footbridge with torn
paper lanterns, over the creek
with its layers of scum and human refuse.

Later, one evening, I will lift
the last sliver of cake from its box
and my insides will bruise
from a sweetness mingled of all
these forsaken colors. The tongue
will withdraw a little, anticipating
release and remembrance, what it knows
of experience passing away with such

The simplest acts, also the most
extravagant: what we take
into our bodies, the small
gestures of ordinary life —
that knocking at the door of a deeper
hunger; how, after we have entered the foyer,
we want to know what it is that shines
so warmly from behind
the other closed doors.

It’s always taste that brings self back to her childhood over there.

The cover of the book was a painting by Dixie Galapon, a nurse from San Diego: “Tropical Landscape II”

Margarita Donnelly of Calyx at AWP Denver with M. Evelina Galang, and Becky, Calyx's new Senior Editor.  Evelina's in the anthology with an excerpt from her novel, ONE TRIBE.

Margarita Donnelly of Calyx at AWP Denver with M. Evelina Galang, and Becky, Calyx’s new Senior Editor. Evelina’s in the anthology with an excerpt from her novel, ONE TRIBE.

1 Comment

  1. March 7, 2013 at 4:38 am

    A wow poem if ever there was one – the egg yolk in the New Year’s cake —

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