Ghazal of the Dark Water

This entry is part 38 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Tell me again that story of the woman by the well,
and of the wanderer who asked to drink from the dark water.

On the banks, river stones gleam like cut topaz, like milky agate or
ovals of smooth amber— such contrast against the dark water.

In the kitchen above the shed, the stove comes to life and a kettle
whistles. Tea or coffee grounds swirl, darkening the water.

Squares of paper hang like laundry on an indoor clothesline.
Someone is waiting for prints to batten in trays of dark water.

Small birds migrating from sleep cluster near the windows—
Don’t eat the merest kindness, like bread thrown upon dark water.

Juncos fill the lilac, nearest cover to the stream’s unfrozen section.
Five or six at a time, they flutter down to drink from the dark water.

Who keeps filling this earthen pitcher? Once and for good
I’d like to break it on the hearth and pour out all the dark water.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Landscape, With Darkness and Hare

This entry is part 37 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


There are still some places on this earth
where, driving into the hills just ten miles
from the nearest town, if you killed
the engine and turned off the headlights
you would find yourself at the bottom
of a well of darkness. Perhaps it is too late
or you don’t realize I hadn’t planned
on coming this far down the road,
but here we are. We could have taken
the other exit, the one littered with rest
stops, vending machines dispensing packets
of sugared goods all day and night, glass
vaults offering the sliver of a chance to lift
a cheap stuffed animal out of the felted pile—
But whether or not you really meant to sign
on for this ride, we’re too far inland now.
Cell phone signals come through only
intermittently, and on this stretch the houses
are three or four miles apart. Who’ll break
the silence first? Back there, I saw a painted shingle
that said to watch for deer crossing. Even in this
desolation, so many signs of life, as though they
didn’t require our noticing. If we sat here
through the last icy hours of night, we might see
at first light, juncos on the snow between
the cattails. Or Dürer’s young hare, soft brown
in watercolor and gouache, still for a moment
before disappearing in the grass.
With all my heart oh how I wish he
would take all the darkness with him.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.


This entry is part 35 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


If what we had grew stronger, if words
did not forget the shells that shook

them loose, if last night’s rain did not fall
in a soft staccato on the ground— If,

despite the clamor of figures on the street,
we could stay tethered to this space—

But the light is always changing,
and the edges of the porch blur and color

with fine snow. In her own footsteps,
the feral cat walks toward the garden,

tracking moments that preceded it.
See the clear imprint housed

in each old crater, see how water
changes to other forms of water.

Ferrous water washed away by salt,
leaving blue silhouettes of stalks and algae,

heart-shaped leaves; unfinished shapes,
bodies pressed close on the muslin sheet.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.


This entry is part 34 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Icicles at sunrise: no even-toed ungulates
come plodding to the cherry, therefore.
But a titmouse lands there, the peachy-
brown streak in her breast the same rust
in a tree sparrow’s cap or a broomsedge stem.
Some days are copper-lined, are meat and wine
and crackling logs the little match girl strikes
flint after flint to enter. I’d take her hand
and sit her on our laps, wrap her in a tufted
comforter. Small songbird, acrobatic forager,
you’ve buried your hoard of morsels so long
in the ground— pine and beech, oak, fruit
of the candleberry. My desire is also quietly
eager for spring. Nothing much yet on the ground—
but pry open the secrets in each gravelly seed;
carry them aloft, bear some to the one I love.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.


This entry is part 33 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


“Everything changes, nothing remains without change.”
—Gautama Buddha

All day I moved from task to task— washing and dressing, raising the shades, putting away clean dishes and utensils from last night as we waited for our youngest daughter to eat her bread and cheese and jam. We piled into the car and drove to church; there too it took some work to listen and tune in to the service, to homilies of being lost and found, the shuffle of collection baskets making their rounds. The wheel of standing-sitting-kneeling, attended by hymns and prayer. After church, we stopped for coffee and sandwiches, the Sunday paper; then went to the Asian grocery for rice (we like the “Milagrosa” brand), sweet bread and tea, mustard greens, and bitter melon. I bought three tiny good luck charms for the lunar new year: fingerling gourd with a buddha hidden in its hem, small brass urn, three-tiered pagoda. At noon, the streets were still surprisingly empty, not even harboring their usual noise. When the wind moved, bands of blue moved east and closed just before the sun could enter them. Everything grew still. When the wind died, it was completely quiet for fifteen seconds. I thought I saw a thousand-armed goddess step through the clouds; just one slight gesture of her hand multiplied in the air and prismed. A truck rumbled past. A siren blared. All around, colors fractured and glowed like pieces of stained glass.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.


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

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.


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

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.


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

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.


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

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.