Consonance

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 32 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11

 

Philavery /fil-a-vuh-ri/ n. An idiosyncratic collection of uncommon and pleasing words.

Unable to sleep till late (or early), I dithered
and tossed in the abstemious dark then clicked
on the lamp switch and sat up to read, finally
settling on my red-bound copy of Foyle’s Philavery
(a present from my daughters two Christmases ago).
I’m not sure how it is that my mind drifted
to the issue of consonants— specifically those
that bump up in threes in the middle of words,
like castaways on an island. They sit shoulder
to shoulder and pass the coconut shell dipper
from hand to hand as they count sharks’
triangles in the morning and punched tin lights
overhead at night, having given up any real
hope for rescue. By then I’d begun to find more
and more of these words– like “esssse,” which
was the way some medieval 14th century texts
spelled what we know today as “ash”; or, more
familiar: “rhythm”, “craftsmanship”, and “ironclad”
(the latter reminding me of the Battleship Wisconsin,
berthed at the riverfront not even a quarter mile
from where we live). So when my husband, grumbling,
asked if I would like a ham sandwich (notice the three
consonants snug in the middle there, not even needing
any mustard or mayo?), what could I do but nod my head
absently and muse aloud how it would be great if we had
some schnapps to go with that. While he was downstairs,
I’d drifted to Chelmno, a little town in Poland (its name
derives from an old Slavic word for hill), then wandered
some more afield, picking up a few hitch-hiking doubles
to keep company with the others: one sweet-talking
beekeeper, one slightly facetious bookkeeper, one gay
gypsy who’d been to Albuquerque. When morning
arrived, they marveled at the sight of a snowpack
glowing in soft light. I knew that a dog was barking
somewhere in the hills of Pennsylvania, and hoped he
would not cause an avalanche. When snow and ice melt,
they feed the rivers and the streams, but sometimes
cause flooding. You wake when you hear a resonant
knock in the dark, even though it could be only a woodpecker.
But then it could also be the sound of a new door opening.

Luisa A. Igloria
01.15.2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Instructions

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 31 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11

 

“I drink from a small spring,
my thirst exceeds the ocean.”
—Adam Zagajewski

Spanish folk music plays today on the sound system of this Turkish coffee shop where I come to sit and write and use the free wireless network (well, really, not completely free if you figure in the cost of the $1.64 glass copita of Turkish tea I’ve ordered, plus tax). A chorus warbles the refrain from “Granada” and ends with a flourish of castanets and foot-stomping. Then more guitars, more singing. I can almost see the women’s arms dipping and lifting, maneuvering their ruffled bata de cola skirts, which troubles the oversized flowers they’ve pinned in their hair. I notice that the girl tending the espresso machine has cut her long hair since I was here last; she’s looped a scarf of silvery grey around her neck though everything else she wears is still black. On the coffee stand by the window, someone has placed a pair of embroidered felt slippers, perhaps the kind a minor pasha might have worn indoors or on his way back from the bath. Outside, a skim of snow’s imprinted on the walk with winding, parallel lines of arrows, like a child’s map to buried treasure. The sun, guest maitre d’ this noon, parts the potted greens and signals for me to take my time, cup my fingers around the bowl; sip the tea while it’s hot, but slowly.

Luisa A. Igloria
01.14.2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Menage

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 29 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11

 

A-one, and a-two, and a-three
gray squirrels in slow-
motion chase:

this is when they come
into heat, as the restless town
sifts under powdered sugar.

Where is the rich broth with marrow,
where is the noisy brass gong?
Windowpanes color with steam.

Something celery and something orange
marry above the stove’s blue flame.
Somewhere a ledge of brittle ice

softens to syrup. You don’t see,
but sunlight’s shade turns
acetylene. A woman

steps out of her bath
kimono, and cranes stretch
tremulous above the grass.

What is that tinkle of brass
bells? New snow cascading
from branches, like wedding veils.

Luisa A. Igloria
01.12.2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Closer

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 28 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11

 

Closer, says the ear to the voice—

Closer, says the face to the water—

Closer, says the throat to the song—

Closer, say the tissues to the cell—

Closer, says the mouth to the flame—

Closer, says the hare to the hound—

Closer, says the lilac to the unsuspecting chickadees—

Closer, say the hundred leaves to the twig—

Closer, says the estocada to the bull—

Closer, says the red heart to the muelta,
fluttering to the ground in a rain of roses.

Luisa A. Igloria
01.11.2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Auguries

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 27 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11

 

On this house plan sketched on college ruled paper, I study the four directions—north and south, east and west, the placement of doors and stairs. My daughter’s partner says rooms and hallways must open and close on auspicious spaces, in order not to create voids. Windows must open not only to the sun and rain but also to the winds of fortune. What spells do the curlicues of dried brome grass press for us to read against the snow? To ward off evil, she lists for us water and crystal, wood and stone, mirrors and discs inlaid with blue glass eyes. In how many languages could we recite the more than 99 names of God? Because the eaves of heaven are steep, we need all the help we can get: celestial guardians to sit at the east, amulets for wealth in the foyer and on windowsills. A sword to guard the front facing north; and from the southeastern end of the garden, imagine a merchant ship steered by the immortals: laden with goods, coming to rest in the middle of your house.

Luisa A. Igloria
01.10.2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Graupel

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 26 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11

 

“To win all the tricks by a vole.” —Alexander Pope

Drifting snow, snow that blurs the edges of the world again so that all I can think of this morning is how fragile the line between beauty and sorrow. Here is the edge of glass, here is the cold screen mesh, here is the print on the frame. A snow dervish whirls on the side of the road and travels a dozen feet before collapsing. How the little ghosts of dog roses and hellebores rise like wraiths from the ground as if to spite us, how beneath the John Clare roses, the Burgundy Icebergs and the Brittens, their plain clustered heads more deeply touch me. Just yesterday, a child no older than my own rose in the morning to rinse her face— did she tether a scarf around her neck to go into the day, did she go down her front walk and ride into town, one arm of the sky’s burnished parenthesis drawing her closer, back to the day of her birth? Drifting snow, just deep enough to provide cover for voles. Drifting snow, drifting through channels; later, battering our windowpanes with pellets of ice.

Luisa A. Igloria
01.09.2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Vertices

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 24 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11

 

Somewhere in Plummer’s Hollow,
a man sits clipping his nails
this morning. There

is snowfall, light as down.
Much further east, uncommon frost
recedes into the hills of Atok, Benguet,

studding the heads of cabbages,
stalks of wild grass, flowers.
Wasn’t it there

conquistadors sought
the fabled orange tree that flew or fell
from El Dorado? Under the earth

are jars of ore and silver.
Little flotillas of creased paper
go down the creek. Sometimes

it seems the past might never
have happened. But even here
the ends of threads are gathered;

the lines on the horizon draw
this world into the other one.
And back and forth the shuttle goes.

Luisa A. Igloria
01.07.2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry. Atok, Benguet is a mountainous municipality in western Luzon northeast of Baguio City, where Luisa grew up. Due to the elevation, occasional frosts occur, with devastating effects on vegetable growers.

“Paired or unpaired, all in the world…”

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 23 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11

 

Paired or unpaired, all in the world
yet moves forward—

A smudge of ash falls through the still air, fragile as a snowflake; nuns’
shoes of molded blue rest by the temple doorstep, inscribed
with names and messages.

Together, hundreds of fish that have perished in the rivers;
thousands of red-winged birds tumbling out of the sky.

Today, only the sun smolders on the ridgetop
between columns of oaks.

Even this not-speaking is speaking to me.
And tomorrow?

Nothing to do but steel the heart again for the crossing;
wait for the fog to clear.

Luisa A. Igloria
01.06.2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Filament

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 22 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11

 

Anything voiced against the wall of a whispering gallery will be audible to a listener standing diagonally on the other side. Look for a place where two pathways intersect, where a vaulted roof forms a shallow dome. In a story I once read, a man spoke just under his breath to a woman across the room. His secret kindled like a flame as though he were by her side, or inside. The sides of the cupola are blue with shadow, but the pillars have the warm tint of citrus. Marble is veined, and not always cold. You’d think a low murmur might carry faster through uninhabited rooms; but it finds its way, even in a thicker medium. Just fling a window open. Let the heavy curtains learn to babble in the wind. Listen to the low-key chattering match of nuthatches a hundred yards apart. Outside, flakes fall through the air—just enough to leave the barest fur on the ground, like a leaf’s glaucous bloom.

Luisa A. Igloria
01.05.2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Despedida de Soltera

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 21 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11

 

Three of my four music teachers were nuns. And the neighborhood referred to my very first piano teacher as the spinster— she wore dark clothing, sensible shoes, agua de colonia flor de naranja. She lived alone, with only part-time help; she never told anyone where she went in summer: “Soltera”. But I’ve always preferred this nod to solitude, to single-tude; the way impudent “l” pushes away from gossipy “o” and fakely coy “e” to bump up against “t” as if to say— So what? Years later, I’m still amazed at how much they knew: the libraries of trills and crescendos hidden underneath wimples and lace shawls; the ways they coaxed feeling from generations of wooden pupils surreptitiously kicking their legs into the piano’s soundboard. Listen to the advance of notes in this passage, they’d say: surf shirring the sand, or horses’ hooves soon coming around the bend. And then the clearing drenched in the scent of violets, which moves you inexplicably to tears. From my bedroom window, the chair backs in the garden are scrolled like treble clefs. It’s still mostly dark when the first faint pink spot appears in the clouds. I lie within that brief interval of solitude just before the day advances, slow and red. A raven croaks.

Luisa A. Igloria
01.04.2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.