I promised myself that some time between last night's feast and this morning's homemade doughnuts or this afternoon's New Year's Day feast, I would begin to write about Luisa Igloria's poems in Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser. So now, while the red wine is soaking out of the giant tablecloth and the guests are occupied, I will take a few minutes to share a poem from Luisa Igloria. Thanks to those of you who said this would be a good idea. Novelist Midori Snyder said she liked posts about poetry, and painter Mary Bullington and writer Jeff Sypeck said they would like to hear about a poet I mentioned (and that was Luisa.), Some others on Facebook liked this idea as well. So I may just share a small group of Luisa's poems this month, starting with one today.
Luisa's latest prize: http://poetrysociety.org.uk/news/luisa-igloria-wins-resurgence-poetry-prize/
Landscape, with an End and a Beginning
In those days, we too looked to the sky
for omens--away from the burning effigies,
the barricades, the soldiers whose phalanxes
we broke with prayers and sandwiches made
by mothers, teachers and nuns passing rosaries
and flasks of water from hand to hand.
The city was a giant ear, listening for news
of the dictator. (Sound travels swift through
a mass of suffering bodies.) Snipers perched
like birds on the peripheries of buildings.
Thickening contrails striped the sky.
Two ravens flew side-by-side over the abandoned
palace, trading hoarse commentary. When night came,
the people scaled the gates. What did they see?
Papers of state whirling in the fireplace. Masses
of ball gowns choking the closet, shoes lined with satin
and pearls; gilt-edged murals above the staircase.
Days and nights of upheaval, their new history
alive; the old one writhing on the floor
with a blur around its mouth like hoarfrost.
The world and the image-rich language in the poem is an interesting mix of war and devotion--"soldiers whose phalanxes / we broke with prayers and sandwiches made / by mothers, teachers and nuns passing rosaries / and flasks of water." Like the metaphysical Body of Christ, made up of believers, the city is all one, "a mass of suffering bodies," "a giant ear, listening for news." They also look skyward for omens, finding snipers like birds, the stripes of contrails, and ravens over the palace. In the end, the "mass of bodies" looks not upward but down to the floor to see a cold death and a resurrection: "Days and nights of upheaval, their new history / alive; the old one writhing on the floor / with a blur around its mouth like hoarfrost."