Landscape, with Variations in Allegory

The wren is also known as kuningilin or “kinglet” in Old High German. ~ Wikipedia

What do I know of lark or wren,
of the tiny bird who folded himself
even smaller to hide in an eagle’s
plumage and then broke free, cresting
the air to win the kinglet’s crown?

And in another story, thirty birds
looking for the transcendent one
saw only themselves in the clearing.
But what do I know of the hoopoe,
of the nightingale that lovers love;

of the parrot repeating what it hears,
its one trick till curtain call?
The peacock brushes soft earth
with indigo and emerald. Which
of them will ferry honeybee

or cricket across seven valleys?
At dusk when I hear plucked, insistent
strings in the garden, I almost remember
all their names: yearning and love,
bewilderment, detachment, selflessness,

oblivion… What signpost heralds
the last crossing? I only know
I’ll want to see our reflections
rinsed in that bit of broken
mirror passing for a lake.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Series Navigation← Pantoum, with Spiderweb and RaindropsAssassin’s Wake →

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.

6 Replies to “Landscape, with Variations in Allegory”

  1. Hi Luisa,
    As I said in an earlier email, I love your poems, and the idea of having all these come out of your daily engagement with the poetic form. The lines are all tensile. They make me seriously realize how poetry indeed yields to discipline. I also love the tone…how you’ve managed to sustain its precision and grace. Thanks a lot. I’m learning a lot from this feat of yours.


    Crossing this lake at sundown, we will see them
    again perched on willows and elms along the banks
    where no one has yet thought of putting up signposts:
    there is no need for them here, nobody will return.

    The sweet larks of love and yearning warble quietly,
    bewildered and detached owls are soundlessly glum;
    but are there birds marked Selflessness? Oblivion?
    This passing allegory is not lost on us who must leave.

    This journey through narrow trails that branch out
    elsewhere before we reach familiar resting places
    is all that we really have while we struggle here—
    Is there a warm hut ahead? Can we stay longer there?

    At that final crossing, before we get to the other side,
    will this lake show a reflection of where we’re going?

    —Albert B. Casuga

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.