July Lit: "Invisibles" by Luisa A. Igloria

July 15, 2016

By Adam Cohn via Flickr

For July, we bring you a timely new poem by Luisa A. Igloria, rich with the imagery of abundance, to highlight the quiet solitude of the laborers and immigrants who work behind the scenes to allow for these riches others enjoyed.

-- Karissa Chen, Fiction & Poetry Editor



 “Ten thousand joys, ten thousand sorrows— which are more beautiful…”

                                                                               ~ Nic Sebastian

During the Great Depression, the countryside
was full of them—
                        stooped over rows of asparagus,
garlic, strawberries; elbow-deep in salmon

guts and scales that silvered conveyor belts,
            carpeted the canning factory floor.
Every so often a hand—
                         maybe a finger— nicked by blades:

for industry is virtue and the harvest
of these great dreams,
                        warmed by the sun
and striped fat with flavor, must be gleaned.

Pasteurized, purchased, they leap
                                                            from farm
and river to waiting tables
so in iconic paintings,

rosy-cheeked children can bow
                                                their heads in prayer
over clean porcelain and heavy silverware,
while elders pass lakes of mashed potato

            and the bronzed carcass of a bird from hand
to hand.
                        In greasy spoon diners and fast
food places across town, look closely

at the face of the lonely
                                                busboy wiping down
the oily counter, at the waitress who’s just
learned English, balancing

                                    a pot of coffee and a tray
            of dirty dishes in her hands.


Luisa A. Igloria

Luisa A. Igloria 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.