In our language, there is only
a borrowed word for constellation.
Instead of the Bear or the Big
or Little Dipper, there are layers
of terraced clouds from which,
on clear nights, you might see
the great cloud rat leap
in his ascent up the limbs
of the sacred tree, winding from earth
to the gates of heaven. There is
no hunter with a sword and silver belt,
but there are warriors wrapped
in loincloth, their hand-tooled
blades ringing still with the audible
breath of their enemies. Don’t ask me
for the catalog of their other names:
when it rains blood, there is famine;
and when it rains clear and milky,
the merciful goddess has squeezed
drops from her breast to feed us.
In response to Via Negativa: Ursa Major.
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.