"I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion."
—Tennessee Williams


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You spoke of your great-grandfather falling in love with a cabaret dancer, of how his mother forbade the affair
(Sp.) Chance, Luck

Luisa A. Igloria

You spoke of your great-grandfather falling
in love with a cabaret dancer, of how his mother
forbade the affair, pronouncing it impossible.

Was it an act of will or desperation that he
opened Alexander von Humboldt’s Cosmos: 
Draft of a Physical Description of the World,

written at a time when most cartographers
drew continents beyond Europe on ivory
parchment as Gorgons’ heads or simian tails,

because they were not even the shape of any
recognizable idea yet? He pointed There!
—to a random destination, the last port

at the end of the world, a country narrow
as a scarf which one might tether to a sail
and follow. So summer changes into fall,

delivering obituaries: planes careen
like heedless comets over Cyprus and
South America; levees break to flood

this other south. An exodus of thousands
inches along Texas highways:
glimpsed from above the earth,

the glowing orange taillights make
a line of chalk some unseen hand is pushing
toward unknown regions. Did the same

hand spill a cup of dice upon a table, so that
one day a volcano, asleep for at least a century,
awakened to gift you with a rain of ashes?

Here we are, wondering what chance
exacts with such indifference.
One day the ocean heaves

as if from a long, pent-up memory
and releases its single wave of regret
on the beach. One day the wind

picks up the roof, and the sky becomes
the ceiling. The man or woman whose feet
and arms are lashed to a tree or to an electric

post are murmuring the same prayer:
What’s left of home now that all, 
including my love, is gone?

LUISA A. IGLORIA is the author of 14 books of poetry and 4 chapbooks. In July 2020, Governor Ralph Northam appointed her as the 20th POET LAUREATE of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In April, she was one of 23 Poet Laureate recipients nationwide of a 2021 Poet Laureate Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets.

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