Sunday Jul 14

IgloriaLuisapho RichJosephFacun Luisa A. Igloria  is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world's first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass  (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (selected by Mark Doty for the 2014 May Swenson Prize, Utah State UP), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal, 2014), The Saints of Streets(U of Santo Tomas P, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver  (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, U of Notre Dame P), and nine other books. She teaches on the faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University.

Would you rather die young or be a laser gun?

            I overhear a boy ask his mother
as they move from pillar to pillar
            in church, walking the Stations
of the Cross. Perhaps this is a trick
            question; perhaps he is bored; or
perhaps he is moved by the vivid
            depictions of suffering in each frame:
the Christ bleeding from his wounds
            at the whipping post, the raised welts
that will rip away from the surface
            of the mock velvet cloak—
The intricate braid of thorns  
            confirming that the end will not
be quick, that the interrogation
            will be exquisitely long, the tortures
agonizing. And I wonder, is that the same
            as asking if a bird would rather lay its eggs
in the nest of a predator’s mouth,
            or in the arms of a cedar tree?
Is that the same as asking if the shoe
            would rather lose the foot,
if the brain would rather lose
            memory, sensation, intelligence?
The plaster saints offer no clue;
            nor do accounts of young martyrs
in the early church— take Felicity
            and Perpetua, led to the arena
to be torn limb from limb. Perpetua
            used her shredded tunic to cover her thighs,
mindful to the end of modesty: then,
            having asked for a pin, she further fastened
her disordered hair— for it would never do
            that a martyr should suffer with her hair
dishevelled, lest she should seem
            to mourn in the hour of her glory.
As for me, I know I’d choose lasers—
            I mean, can you imagine what those girls
might have done, given lasers?

In the karmic ledger

it is customary to enter in one column
the daily passel of frustrations, the tally
of greater and lesser sorrows, the knotted
strands of willful and unnavigable chaos;
and in the other, the seemingly smaller fund
of daily successes, the bits of brilliance
that float every now and then to the oily
surface and that your hand has skimmingly
managed to harvest before sundown—
And the beautiful golden fish flick
their extravagant tails before descending
once more into the cool depths of the pond,
resetting the scales on the axis in order
for everything to begin all over again.
And so the counters flicker like dark
reeds in opaque water, some on one side
and many more on the other. There is
something dialectical about this movement,
the shuttle that moves from one side
to the other, increasing or withdrawing,
from moment to moment the surplus dwindling
as if to almost nothing. But nothing stops
the child from leaping across the fence
instead of undoing the gate; nothing stops her
from swinging her hair as if without thought
in the wind. And when you shade your eyes
against the sun, or look up into that inky scroll
where night after night stars spill their uncounted
numbers, you too are waiting for that one triumph
that will pay for a thousand little failures. Inside,
you notice one of the stargazer lilies on the kitchen
counter has folded its head against the lip of the vase.
Yet time doesn’t stop— the rest have opened their faces,
flushed superimposition of double triangles,
coral and magenta at each stamen’s tip.


Would you choose one made of pine
and lined with resin? Would it be

acacia or whistling thorn, the honey oak,
the silver birch? Wind streamed through

these branches once, and swifts.
This one, or that, could be the craft

you’ll board, aimed past the chasm;
the last bed and dream you’ll row in.

Photo by Rich Joseph Facun