No Wild Iris

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The Philippines, as a tropical archipelago, is “concurrently a country of premodern, modern, and postmodern societies[:] our rural areas, small communities, and villages, while we may sweepingly characterize them as premodern, possses at the same time some of the trappings of postmodern cities like Manila, Los Angeles, or Paris” (Cruz-Lucero, 2007, p. 7). And yet, as a nation, this concurrence of temporalities is ultimately flattened, so as to turn it into “a sociological organism moving calendrically through homogeneous, empty time” (Anderson, 2006, p. 26). What emerges, therefore, is a Philippine time that is also a disjuncture: multiplicities that insist on a singularity, or a singularity that insists on being multiple. Keeping time with this contradiction between the diverse temporalities in the archipelagic tropics (see Carter, 2013) and the adamant dream toward a nation-state, this poem meditates on the concurrence of various events that happen in the archipelago nation during the 2020 COVID-19 global pandemic. Taking cues from the 1992 poem “The Wild Iris” penned by the 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature recipient Louise Glück, “No Wild Iris” attempts to interrogate the experience of homogenous and empty time in the longest lockdown in world history. By interweaving the personal, the political, and the ecological, it harnesses the lyrical while also disclosing its limits, if not outrightly refusing the tendency to sentimentality and universality as a poem.