Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Cuauhtemoc - Luisa Igloria

The young sailor
shows us around the visiting
ship, its instruments for calculating
moisture in the air; the numbered masts,
the captain's wheel. We admire the polished
wood of the gangplank, its handrails tipped
in brass—the way the late sun glances
off them, haltingly, like words he tries
to find in English, describing this
month's voyage from Panama
and beyond, from Mexico.
In the galley, long loaves of bread
rise and are baked in the fire,
cooling soon like islands under a mantle
of shimmering vapor. He tells us
the name of the Aztec king
whose bronze likeness is pinned
to the bow, eyes cast always on a point
across the never-still water, through low
tide and turbulence. I think of the old
galleons setting forth with their hoard
of gold and silver, their panniers
and creels of curry, cinnamon, and hemp.
Greater than these must have been
the far-seeing faith of the ones
at the helm, navigating by the stars’
mathematics, by their stubborn
will to steer past the bounded ledge
of sea where the sun always sank, proving
passage. Above this place where the ship
rests in the river’s lowered hem, darkness
climbs up the masts and lowers its sails.
A thousand journeys return in the beat
of steel drums on the lawn: merengue,
salsa, curacha, limbo rock. Families
lay out food and wine on picnic
blankets. Men and women sway
their hips and enter the music.

Luisa Igloria (born 1961) The Philippines

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