Luisa Igloria




2,000 or More Objects Extracted from the Human Throat

(Mütter Museum of Medical Anomalies, Philadelphia)

What does the body want
to swallow of the world?
Its shiny buttons. Its hearing aids.  
Its dentures.  Its rhinestone hair
barrettes. Its shoelaces. Its safety
pins and spools of thread.
Its cherry pits and bottle caps.  
Its small drawer pulls
and doorknobs. Its pearls.  
Its metal buckles. Its smallest
measuring spoons. Its key rings
and skate keys. Its three-inch
fishbones. Its fishing hooks
and silver bullets. Its jacks.
Its dimes and quarters.
Its brass medals. Its travel-size
shoehorns. Its guitar picks.  
Its padlocks and keys.
Its hooks and eyes and melted
cakes of soap. Its wedding bands
and eyeglass chains.  
Its earrings and cuff links.  
Its glass beads and ivory
ornaments. Its chicken
bones and washers.
Its nails and nuts and bolts.
Its pendants and lockets.
Its thimbles and dried
seed-pods. Its toy
lighthouses and miniature
battleships, sending faint
x-ray signals back for help
from a faraway island,
really no further away
than a child’s gullet.




There was a time, at home, my mothers
made a sweetmeat called nata de coco:
pale, rubbery chunks, congealed

from the water of fresh
coconuts.  Weeks after straining
through cheesecloth, shroudy filaments

swirled to the bottom of mason jars, becoming
flesh.  To start the recipe, as sourdough is used
for friendship cakes, they poured into bottles

a cup of yeasty liquid distilled in other
women’s kitchens.  Divided, the opaque fluids
rested on top of cupboard shelves; daily,

white cells multiplied where it was darkest,
warmest— fattening by layers in their moist
beds.  We checked how thick each weekend;

sometimes, cleared this “Mother Liquor” through
a mesh, adding a few more liquid measures   
to the fermenting crop.  Six to eight weeks later,

the jars, uncapped, engulfed our kitchen with the musky
smell of aged, slow-simmered things, the odor itself another
kind of fruit, tangible as the white mass that had swelled

to fullness there.  We knew how to pull from the mouth of each
slick jar, to rinse the skins clear under running water.  Slashed
into cubes and boiled in sugar, nestled in party

bowls with canned fruit and blankets of tinned
cream, this food still mystifies my now
experienced tongue: balance of salt,

chewy and muscular, sweet with
sour— by women’s hands delivered
almost of air and amniotic fluids. Spore

and chain, generous birth and afterbirth
originating without cease— authorship
as if from a spirit womb.


Luisa A. Igloria is the author of Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (selected by Mark Doty for the 2014 May Swenson Award, forthcoming from Utah State University Press in summer 2014); Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, spring 2014); The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013); Juan Luna's Revolver (University of Notre Dame Press, 2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize); Trill & Mordent (WordTech Editions, 2005); and eight other books. Originally from Baguio City, she teaches on the faculty of Old Dominion University where she currently directs the M.F.A. creative writing program. Her website is