What Leads to Marriage, in a Mostly Roman Catholic Country

In order to avert a crisis,
the family comes as one
to plead their case: no one

bothers to verify if it is true
a child is on the way—
how could it not be so?

Quick to the church,
and quickly exit with streams
of jaunty orange and gold;

and all that rice, rained on
the heads of all who’ve
gathered at the door:

and all that fractures
and multiplies in little
bits of rattling white.

Luisa A Igloria
11 07 2011

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch

Landscape, on the Brink of the World to Come

Eschatology: a branch of theology concerned with the final events
in the history of the world or of humankind.

 

What else are they waiting for, those ten
watchful virgins? The bridegroom’s been
promised, the nuptials and the feast

arranged. And the ones they send away
to buy oil from merchants in the town?
What becomes of them? Night has fallen,

the year bent hard toward solstice.
In the overhead branches, wind moves
like knives, scoring each surface met.

In the distance, those windows hung
with curtains and ablaze with light—
Why can’t I believe all that were

turned away have been unfaithful,
or merely unprepared? Of them, who
sleeps in abandoned sheds or among

unpolished stones in the field,
gathering scraps and twigs for
kindling? I’ve seen their limbs

offered up to the cold in sleep,
as the bus hurtled along the edge
of highway. At daybreak, a bird

dares to disrupt the silence.
Only the sun warming the peaked roofs
knows how one side begins to steam

while the other remains in shadow.

Luisa A. Igloria
11 06 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.

Wind Chill Warning

Like a restless spirit, the wind
has thrashed through the branches
all night, and is still not done
in the morning— upending some
deck chairs, the small newspaper
dispensers on the corner, signs
on campus that were up yesterday,
announcing the football game. Hard
frost at dawn— thin blossoms
feather with ice crystals and then
lie limp, uncurled by the warming thaw
at noon. I, too, have been confused
by so much weather— burrowing under
a summer-thin quilt and craving warmth,
waiting for the heat to kick in.
More blankets, wool socks. But cold,
anyway, in the bones. Whatever you do,
a teacher said to me once, stay
grounded in the center; don’t let
the fire in your gut go out.

Luisa A. Igloria
11 04 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.

Resistance

Imagine how long it took to form each
solid face of rock, those shoulders

hunched in grey-cloaked silhouette
against the coast— how long

wind and weather chipped away
(to flake, to rubble, and to grit)

what yet withstands the elements
and lodges in the flesh of the unshod

foot. Updrafts of air that wide-
winged birds will ride, alone

in so much space; cathedrals of fog,
buttressed above all that unrelenting

flint. And yet each loosened orb,
each pock-marked surface, moon-like,

gouged by water, wrapped in yellow strands
of kelp, scribes me with grainy hope.

Luisa A. Igloria
11 03 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.

Thanks also to Beth Adams for the inspiration from some of her recent work.

Intersection

The gate— green and rusting in patches;
gravel along the walk. The heads of orchids
nodding over the neighbor’s fence. Not far
from there, the road that descends into the park.
Memory from childhood of looming pines,
scuffle of loose stones underfoot; fretwork
of darkening blue, burst corollas of Queen
Anne’s Lace. Returning in the evening,
listen closely, listen closely—
in the wood the sparrow calls, and you stop
what you are doing; and you turn your head
toward the mountains though there’s nothing
in the window but the hoarfrost and the moon.

Luisa A. Igloria
11 02 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.

Night Shelves

Les étagères de la nuit: “Reliquaries [in Saint-Pol-de-Léon Cathedral, Brittany] containing the skulls…of people disinterred from under the church floor, and later from the cemetery.”

 

Further up in the highlands where I am from,
it was customary to strap the dead in full regalia
to a ceremonial chair, in view of all who came

to pay their respects. In time— a month,
perhaps more— smoke from fragrant leaves
and twigs rendered the body leathered,

leached of weight and fluid, light enough
to fold then carry into a limestone niche,
up in the hills where only the wind,

amorous to the last, has permission
to thread its voice through desiccated
flesh. And even then it is not the end—

Rocks and trees house spirits, parts
of souls that traffic through the gaps
between worlds: spasm of powdery moth

wings on the window screen, faint whiff
of jasmine at dusk in a garden worn
nearly to ruin; the sudden blur

by the abandoned hummingbird feeder.
Even in another part of the world, in that
church crammed with relics —a thorn from

the crown of Christ, a bell, 32 miniature
boxes the size of birdhouses— the bones
of the severed body defy all final exiling.

Why else would the little chapels holding skulls
buffed to ivory, bear the lettered names of the dead?
Why shape their apertures like hearts and sweet clover?

Luisa A. Igloria
11 01 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.

By rote, by ritual,

by sheer and boring repetition—
this is the way we learned our numbers,
letters: morning drills, multiplication

tables; and in the afternoons the parsing
of sentences and their parts. Long, chalked-out
trees of subjects, verbs, and their modifiers

growing sideways, across the blue-green
blackboard. Before the last bell rang
our release, a half hour of cursive

writing: a series of tight loops and coils
leaning right then left; then spelling
and vocabulary practice. And finally,

reading Mercator maps pulled down like color-
blocked shades across the board. I liked
how the teacher let us come close to inspect

the shapes of continents and islands
marked with latitudes and meridians;
how we measured the width of Greenland

or the Indian Ocean with our hands,
before returning to our seats to correct
our pencil drawings— How wonderful

to know that even as sun or rain beat on
the classroom windows, as surely as our erasers
rubbed spots on the paper thin, a gold-flecked

sandstorm whirled in the desert; and somewhere,
the first snow of the season had already
stencilled the landscape in white.

Luisa A. Igloria
10 29 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.