Landscape, with Night Sky Obscured by Street Lamps

Here where we crane our necks, walking home
where yellow lights flood the little streets
and alleys in measured increments, neither
can the trimmed points of cypresses figure

where the constellations lie. The hunter
seems merely an old bedtime story: its belt
and quiver and bow, its prey too small
from this distance to see. And that river

of stars dividing the greater distance
between time and prophecy I’m sure
is milky, its edges tinted lilac
or cool blue; and the vessels

that pour and pour yet never reach
the pinnacle of thirst. What becomes
of them when the dark unsettles, when
the lion opens its maw and the bird

flies, trembling, back toward the sun?

Luisa A. Igloria
10 21 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.

Threshold

In the shelled cities, in the ghost towns,
among the buff-colored hulls of strafed

buildings, the dead congregate: brides
who never consummated their vows,

their bridegrooms in whose mouths sand
rained the lost hours before they

could even fill with sweets and dates.
And the wraiths of mothers who pined away,

not knowing which part of the desert
they should water with their tears;

which rock cradled the tongueless
or sightless remains of husband,

brother, son— Above the oil fields
and endless plains, the calculus

continues, one end of the hourglass
swinging over to the other;

and under night’s dark tent, stars reel:
so many hornets released from the nest.

Luisa A. Igloria
10 20 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.

Lyric for Waking

Walk, said the master in that miracle of waking.
See. Or hear. In this labyrinth of partitions,
the merely unmiraculous voices clatter against each
other every morning. Theirs is the sound of copper,
of coins and cups with their sleeves of corrugated
cardboard. It is always warmer out than in. Or
in than out. On the street corner, where the kids
from the Governor’s School for the Arts are waiting
for the bus, one girl says to another, “Stimulants.
I just take stimulants.” A thread of green unravels
from the edge of my sweater. If I pulled it, wound it
into a ball, how far would it take me out of the cave?
The voices are also breathing. A warm wind blows
over the tops of trees in the city, flutters
like long ribbons of gauze— imagine them peeling
off our faces, startling like fish from the depths.

Luisa A. Igloria
10 19 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.

Letter to S, with Fading Sunlight

The pebbly look of clouds at dusk, as though washed
limpid by sky clear as water.

And yes it’s hard for me to pass grocery store shelves
bedecked with sale signs, the sidewalk tables

at the corner cafe where tiny jugs for cream
and lidded bowls for sugar gleam whitely—

and not think of you wondering where next
month’s sustenance is coming from.

You say you take a cup of coffee in the morning,
bread, an egg sometimes. What else?

Someone points out the wild rose bushes
next to the broken-down wall, how they are

choked with ruffled blossoms—
everything sunlit, struck, blazoned

as the air above fills with indigo,
even as the light is dying.

Luisa A. Igloria
10 18 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.

Composition

Weekends, on the second floor of an old building at the end of the girls’ high school, the art teacher set wooden eggs and cylinders on a table by the window. Outside, spicy smells of wood-smoke: moldering leaves and dead twigs the gardeners raked into piles under the guava trees and burned. Think of light as a thin finger of ochre you halo around a shape, he said. Think of the angle as it hits the roof. Camouflaged in the trees, the shadow of a bird that looks upon the scene and sees the worm’s dark squiggle vanish into the dirt. And there are always ruins— the remnants of a bell tower in the foreground, the dark sweep of a volcano’s skirts steepling away in the distance; or something Grecian, cool skins of marble chipped in the places where they might have spoken or gestured or sung of flight— veined lip, suspended arm, knobs beneath the shoulder blades where wings were broken off. And always, stones strewn like jewels in the grass.

Luisa A. Igloria
10 17 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.

Aerogramme

This entry is part 21 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011

 

At first light, the mother with the bones grown brittle as a sparrow’s gets up to wash her face in the ancient sink. The ceilings are still damp from the last hurricane when the roof leaked in more places than she had pails for. On the wall, faint prints of mold shaped like whorls of ears— they listen as she prays aloud or talks to her husband who left this world more than a decade ago. Far away, farther than the sights of a bird perched on some craggy roost, I follow her every move in the falling-down house: my lips touching the rim of her coffee cup, my fingers opening and closing on the shapes of bread and cheese and fruit I want to heap upon her plate; the rings of silver and gold and pearl I want to slide back, lovingly, upon those thin, arthritic fingers which once sewed every seam of my world neatly into place.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Dear errant winds at dusk,

This entry is part 20 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011

 

what do your long fingers
want to trace? Downtown,
at the intersection, a woman
walks with her marine in a dress
of gathered green. Its silk
petals flutter, and she
is an artichoke whose heart
shelters under overlapping
eaves, listening to the sounds
of the orchestra tuning up,
feathering; cradling the throats
of wood or brass for warmth;
and in the end, putting away
notated sheets, packing up
or dismantling instruments.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

When does the hunger abate;

This entry is part 19 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011

 

and in the woods, the downward flight of leaves, when does that cease? Even in dreams we move from window to window, waiting for morning, for the light-tipped crowbar to break the seal. We’ve eaten the bread, we’ve spooned the soup, we’ve burrowed into the bedclothes stripped of all but last night’s crumpled wings. Oh tender moths brushing against our sleep, even the gravel on the walk has multiplied. Harder than rain, I’ve prayed to the wish-granting gods though you see my lips forming only words like yolk or honey or dust, coin or sparrow or coal.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

How I Came to Writing

This entry is part 18 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011

 

In a faraway city in the mountains, monsoon
rains descend and it is soft typewriter sounds

on the roof all day and all night, rain
and fog all month; not a sliver of sun

returned, in a carriage or otherwise. Dark
pink bougainvillea blossoms give up

and plaster themselves closer to the wall.
Crevices flourish with signatures of moss.

They might not know it, but even they
have stories to tell. All is elegy,

departing or gone; incessant rain,
language the earth understands.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Landscape, with a Glimpse of the Soul as it Leaves the Body

This entry is part 17 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011

 

My girlfriend, telling of her mother’s
last moments, describes the gaunt
frame they prop on pillows in the living

room, windows they slide open to a view
of mountains behind a curtain of gold leaves.
The cancer has chiseled her features close

to bone, but still she struggles to listen.
Hearing is one of the last senses to go;
and so they shush the relatives

that have come to start chants of ritual
mourning at her side. A son-in-law
slides a bow across a halting serenade

of viola strings. Grandchildren whisper
in her ear, urging her to the crossing.
And at the end, my friend swears

there is a split-second glimpse of wisping
breath— leaving the white-throated body
behind, slight tear like a wing in the air.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.