Landscape, with Small Flakes and Far-off Bandoneón

“Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.”
—W. B. Yeats, “The Wild Swans at Coole”

In today’s paper, an obituary for a scholar
who’d once taught in our midst— he died
Sunday, nearly two weeks to the day his wife
passed, just a few days after the new year. I knew
who they were but didn’t really know them:
might have seen them at the local coffee shop,
reading the news and eating toasted bagels; or
walking past the laundromat, melting into
the crowd of couples out for brunch. I’d never
thought too much about what it might be like to grow
old alone, or lonely; had more than once declared
that travel solo might be the better way to go—
no expectations, no one to have to pick up for
or after, no epics to endure and survive for dubious
reward (roots like mangroves’ anchored
in marshy soil… ) But even when the narrative’s over,
when the loggers have loaded up the rig and rolled
out of town (inaudible hush, low clouds
suspended above the highway), something in the air
will shimmer, something will always catch.
I stick an arm out, and white motes dot my sleeve.
I lean my forehead on the windowpane and feel my
bindings loosen. I want to hear the air puffed out
the sides of a bandoneon, to master the tangled
slide of paired legs across a polished floor.

Luisa A. Igloria
01.25.2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

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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.

3 Replies to “Landscape, with Small Flakes and Far-off Bandoneón”

  1. I like the juxtaposition of rueful thoughts about growing old alone and lonely, the impermanence of “dubious” relationships—roots anchored on marshy soil–and the volta at the end after the “end of the narrative”. With “bindings loosened” the persona now wants to hear the air puffed out of a bandaneon “to master the tangled slide of paired legs across a polished floor” and maybe dance all night! Life goes on.
    Love goes on. “Tangled slide” is sensuous and suggests erotic ambiguities.

    These are the complexities of images yoked together to build a gestalt of the poetic experience. Life is a highway, after all. Sounds so close, despite the low clouds and inaudible hush. Something shimmering in the air will always catch. Thus, the creative collaboration is superbly productive. Bravo.

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