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mother liquor
by Luisa Igloria

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

© Luisa Igloria

grass | two canvases | mother liquor | jungian dream therapy

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