Home > New Classics > There’s That Old Chestnut, Again

There’s That Old Chestnut, Again

May 28, 2010

by Luisa A. Igloria

A hardy Bouche de Betizac, at prime,
begets a robust dozen to fifteen
castañas per pound; the Willamette
docks in one handful more
(eighteen to twenty-two). In Austen’s novel,
Fitzwilliam ponders Elizabeth’s dark brown curls,
good grosgrain ribbons ironed chaste against
her serviceable frock. Carriage rides or walks
in the woods were de rigueur back then. Time for verbal
jaunts mostly, then a curtsy and a bob. Meanwhile,
kestanecis in Istanbul scour the bottoms of iron vats,
ladling the hot goods to passersby. Under her veil,
Manouk desires more than this sweetmeat, this
nestled kernel housed head to toe, brown husk like a burkah.
Overhead, that lit-up, leafy canopy; on each side, avenues made
princely by rows of trees. The perfect set! Lovers have kissed,
quelled that thrashing business variously called compulsion, allure,
rapture, distress… What are its other names? Those old
saws rasp back and forth across the grain: Look before you leap,
think twice before you bribe a cop or make that hasty
u-turn, get a room in which to darn that stitch before its time…
Very, very crazy, say my daughters. The clicking in my ears
will not abate. It’s said that Spanish dancers’ castanets
excite the fleshy little heart caged in a wooden box.
You hear it rattling as the coals are stoked. Flambéed by
zealous, patient fire, the hardest shell does crack.

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Originally from Baguio City, Luisa A. Igloria (website) is a poet on the faculty of Old Dominion University, where she currently directs the MFA Creative Writing Program. She has published Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize in Poetry, University of Notre Dame), Trill & Mordent (WordTech Editions, 2005) and eight other books.

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  1. May 28, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    It’s great to see your work here again, Luisa.

  2. JJS
    June 2, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    There’s such intricate intelligence and sense of play in your language. I love how far this poem travels, and how lightly!

  3. Lucy
    June 5, 2010 at 7:38 am

    I too am pleased to see your work here again. As before, one can taste it.

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