Sunday, April 5, 2020



Trill & Mordent by Luisa A. Igloria
(WordTech Editions, 2005)

A Life of Connections, A Library of Enchantment: 
Reading Luisa A. Igloria’s Trill & Mordent During a Pandemic

Luisa A. Igloria’s Trill & Mordent (WordTech Communications, 2005) covers a range of forms, and a musical scale from the heights of joy to the depths of our human fears. Is it that I am reading this now? Both joy and fear accompany us in these days of a global pandemic, and when we turn to poetry, even poetry that is set in different contexts—as these poems were written in the wake of 9/11—our pattern-seeking brains make connections. Both as writers and readers, we are building a life of poetry. 

I was drawn to Igloria’s “Armor,” which is truer now than it has ever been. Our coping mechanisms, including poetry, but also the masks and gloves that now become part of our everyday armor help us to face this broken world, “as if, encased in breastplates//and outer garments hinged at elbow and knee,/the quailing heart might stand more firmly yoked//to the shadow of its own inevitable death,/which simply means the fear of losing all//it loves—Bread in the morning…” It is so very human of us to turn to baking as another coping mechanism, to reaffirm life.

And the title poem, “Trill and Mordent” sings of our inherent vulnerability to chaos. “Now the news every day is filled with how little/it takes to ignite the blunt wick of fear.” What role does dissonance play in our lives? When something sounds wrong, maybe that’s a sign that we need to pay closer attention. 

Pay close attention, too, to beauty with the full knowledge that it will disappear. “If the Poem Were Glass,” Igloria uses the metaphor of the wine, transformed and transformative, and leaving behind it a momentary warmth, like a sunset. And even after we return to the sober status quo, “the careful hand rinses the glass and returns it to/the paneled cabinet, where other fragile vessels/rest in attention—aware of how the slightest motion/could set the whole transparent shelf to ringing.” The role of poetry in the world is illuminated by these lines. 

While poetry can only attend to the beauty of passing stars and branches “before their waning,” and while poetry stands “against the silence/which holds what cannot unburden its heart/completely to language,” still it can be a glass through which we can view the world distilled and transformed. And the more poems we have resting in attention in our cabinets, the more we can re-enchant our daily life.

The poetry in this collection traverses through fairy tale and history, both personal and collective. Although the joys are leavened with grief, always there is enchantment.  


Christine Fojas is a Filipino-Canadian settler-immigrant to the unceded Coast Salish territory and is currently working as a library technician at Douglas College. She is a regular contributor to Marias at Sampaguitas online magazine, and can be found on Twitter @chrisfojas.

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