it’s spring, or whatever / season it is for laughter or slaughter, a // difference of one letter between one state / of being and another
In July of 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam appointed Luisa A. Igloria as the 20th Poet Laureate of Virginia. Read Vina Orden’s profile and interview with Igloria on The Margins, published for National Poetry Month.
Listen to Igloria read “Song of Meridians” and “Calling the Soul Back to the Body,” from her new collection Maps for Migrants and Ghosts, published by Southern Illinois University Press. Scroll down to read both poems, republished with permission.
Song of Meridians
It’s spring, but in other places it’s not-
yet-spring. It’s dry, or wet with
monsoon, or it is why-is-there-still-snow-
on-the-ground. It’s strange and high,
that mechanical whine in the night, coming
from somewhere beyond the ceiling.
It’s Wednesday, and in another place already
Thursday; it’s night, though here it is
still half-past noon. And look at the news-
paper: on the upper left, a woman in a pale
peach dress is smiling and waving her hand.
On the bottom right, there’s a picture
of cities burning: it’s spring, or whatever
season it is for laughter or slaughter, a
difference of one letter between one state
of being and another. It’s that time when cows
and sheep are calving, when blood is the marker
for a life breaking away, or maybe just breaking.
Calling the Soul Back to the Body
It swings imperceptibly on the slack
end of a clothesline. Dark hooded shape,
wings glossier than tree ear mushrooms, its
marble eye fixed on my own. Every afternoon
I come to the kitchen threshold
and there it sits; I almost want to raise
my right hand and swear with my left
on the cover of a sacred book. It never stays
long—swooping into the bush to stab
a worm in half before arcing away
into the sky. Vines settle back upon
their blue-green cowl when it leaves.
Say to the soul, I know you. Chant a spell
learned long ago: Maykan, maykan, di ka agbutbuteng.*
*Come back, come back, do not be frightened. [Ilocano]