The Saints of Streets

By LUISA A. IGLORIA

were men
in wool or gabardine. They named

the mountain road
sinuous for its crawl-by-crawl
among stone outcroppings.

There used to be a waterfall
called Bridal Veils.

In legend, a woman falls to her death.
(Why always on the eve
of nuptials?)

You’ll find strawflowers the locals call
Everlasting, and spiny red blooms of bottlebrush

but there are no words for pole bean here.
Carrots thicker than your wrist
arrive at dawn in carts at the old market; it was

an airplane hangar left over from the war.
Before the Pines

Hotel burned down and old
Vallejo creaked its weight on stilts, bolts of cloth
waved stiff triangular flags
in dry goods stores.
At Dainty, waiters filtered coffee

with ground eggshells. The fountain lit up and plumed
in the middle of the lake. Schools
were gloomy with ghosts and no running water.

Those in the know could tell you the best
restaurants were those with flowered

oilcloth tables, next to the abattoir
nicknamed The Slaughterhouse.
Between Mount Santo Tomas

and Trinidad Valley, we pedaled on low
bicycles and slid trays of eggs

to nuns in pink habits. By pairs, day and night
they prayed on their knees or sang thin hymns of adoration. In June
we listened to the wind toss avocados

like bombs on rooftops, in November we listened to it
whitewash rows of stones under which all our dead lay sleeping.

 

Luisa A. Igloria is the author of Juan Luna’s Revolver, Trill & Mordent, and eight other books.

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The Saints of Streets

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