Poetry Issue 10

   Issue # 10: July-December 2008

Luisa A. Igloria

Thinking in Sepia

      They pose under cypress and pine
                next to the old cathedral. The father is fifty.
      The mother, slim in a hand-sewn sheath,
                might pass for his daughter. The child hugs

      a doll half her size. At mass, when Latin drips
                yellow and waxy like tapers, she sucks
      on its fingers in the pew. What a good girl
                says the horrid Spanish grandmother,

      yanking her short hair into braids just because
                she is hija de muchacha, hija de mujer, born
      of a farmer's daughter. For pictures
                such as these, the child has learned to smile,

      to point one patent-leather shoe aslant
                of the other, to sit very still in a stiff-backed
      armchair or on a crocheted bedspread
                rich with vines and roses. But she knows

      the story of the drunken father,
                threatening to break every wine glass
      when the mother refuses to wait on his table.
                The child can name the dusty towns (Bacnotan,

      San Juan) where her mother's father plows the difficult soil
                to grow rice, okra, and bitter melons. On Sundays
      this grandfather puts on his only white suit and Panama hat,
                and walks to church in slippers. On her fifth birthday

      he gives her a goat, and a chicken whose throat he slits
                above the sink before supper. Watch, he says. And years later
      she can still see the perfect line scored through the ruff of orange,
                black, and red; and the shutter of her eye, opening and closing.

      (Originally appeared in Poetry East and used by permission of the author.)