The Jewel in the Fruit

“…The brilliant days and nights are
breathless in their hurry. We follow, you and I.”
~ Lisel Mueller

This is a story about time. But when
is any story not about time? Who knows
where it really begins, or how?

The important thing is that the message
finally gets delivered to the king.
And everything is of course a metaphor:

each piece of fruit the beggar has brought
every day as a gift for ten years, the guards
that throw it into a neglected store-room

and chase away the one who patiently returns,
seeking audience. And then the day the king’s
monkey intercepts the gift, breaks the dull

brown pericarp to reveal the riches
within. What can the poor soul do but follow?
In the wood is a corpse hanging from a tree.

The branch does not break, but every footfall
sinks into its own shallow grave. His task
is to carry it on his back, deliver it.

The corpse tells stories, poses riddles,
threatens death. Imagine: the minute the answer
passes the king’s lips, the corpse flies back

into the tree. So it goes, this task
of rolling the body’s stone forward then back,
forward then back, until one forgets one’s name.

How many trips have I made? I’m listening
still, trying to figure out how to answer
paradox without breaking silence, how to sever

the contradictions that faithfully dog my steps.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Series Navigation← Preparing the Balikbayan BoxLumen →

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.

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