Intercession

“Adoro te devote, latens Deitas,
Quae sub his figuris vere latitas…”
[“I adore you devoutly, O hidden God
truly present under these veils…”]
—St. Thomas Aquinas

The silence of falling snow perhaps is like the hush
that lives somewhere in each moment of great
preparation: as for instance in Pieter van der Borcht’s
medieval copperplate engraving, when you would not know,
unless you read the captions, that the fierce and terrible
mangled faces of the lion and the lioness are from
their desperate expenditure of chi so that their stillborn
cub might live— under the gnarled cypress and rock,
see how its body writhes, stretching and coming to at last
under the double blowtorch of breath. And what of the meal
that the pelican gathers for her young from the cabinet
of her own breast, bright speckled clusters of blood from
the vine? Feathers fragranced with cedar, the phoenix
bursts into flame then crests from its ashes on the third
day; the unicorn comes to lay its head on the virgin’s lap,
and the foliage glistens like a page of illuminated
text. Orpheus knew, afterwards, the dangers of looking
too closely at the silence, of doubting what it might bear.
Think of him ascending from the depths, not hearing
her voice or footfall, not seeing her face. This morning,
also by myself, I bend to attend the furnace’s smolder.
Three deer digging under the wild apple tree
in the garden startle and run down the slope.

Luisa A. Igloria
01.28.2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Series Navigation← SpunRecurrence →

Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) 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. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

One Reply to “Intercession”

  1. The silence of falling snow IS the “hidden God under these veils”, the hush that comes after great achievement: a painting, a cub snatched from death by self-denying parents, a pelican feeding its young with victual “from the cabinet of its own breast” (I dare anyone to equal the visceral urgency of this conceit), Orpheus descending and silently nailed on the silenced lyre. T.S. Eliot had grand allusions from ancient and classical lore that drove graduate students unto wonderment before wrathful puzzlement; I found this poem’s objective correlatives of silence as the Thomistic “latens Deitas” and the hush of grandeur so apt, I truly covet them. I am grateful I read it.

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