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08-26-2019

Angela Narciso Torres

Things to Tell My Son about the Moon

 

 

She seemed so close those October nights

on the bentwood rocker—her bright disc

rising at the wheel-shaped window

 

like the first face that greeted

your pale crescent of scalp before

its triumphant push into light. Then

 

I came to know the near perfect roundness

of your head, silver-downed, nestled

against my breast, taut with milk. Skin

 

to skin we watched the night pour out

from a ladle, tilted to spill the slow

spooling hours. In the silken silence

 

of a moth’s cocoon, I listened for

the sound of your swallows, followed

the motions of your starfish hand, patting,

 

pulling loose a strand of my hair.

Somewhere I learned which cry meant

you had enough, or wanted more.

 

From spring to harvest moon I watched

the shadows move across your face,

explored new regions with borrowed light.

 

 

Reflection, 3 a.m.

 

The way the glow of a streetlamp

limned the blinds in my son’s bedroom

where I’d stumbled half awake

to answer his fevered cry

 

and lying beside him on the narrow bed,

the way his feet burrowed like roots

into the lap they once pushed against

when he first wobbled upright,

 

brought back late afternoons

napping with my father, curtains drawn

to the green breath of trees,

thin light combed by blades of palm.

The way I hooked my ankle

 

to my father’s leg so he wouldn’t slip

away to his desk, his weekend chores,

believing a small foot sufficient

to anchor us, an axle on which

the vast afternoon slowly turned.

 

 

Cold Front

 

 

The whiff of clean laundry

   is not what I expect

at the door of Divine Word Seminary

 

   this morning, gray

slush sliding from my boots

   onto stone, but it takes away

 

the numbing chill to think

   of albs tumbling in a dryer,

warm suds swirling with wine,

 

   paraffin, human sweat.

Behind walls a monk folds

   chasubles, another sings

 

Tantum Ergo while swinging

   a chained thurible.

Incense infuses nave, linens,

 

   wood. Stooped on a pew,

a traveler might lift his eyes

   to the saturated reds and golds

 

of high windows, the lit robes

   of saints, plainchant

spiraling like smoke—

 

   might even be moved

to face the day differently,

   as I was, by the scent of clean

 

clothes. Outside, snow

   embroiders a veil on my window,

delicate as a girl’s.

 

-From Blood Orange, Willow Books 2013.

Prompt: As in the opening of Angela Narcisco Torres' "Cold Front," ("The whiff of clean laundry / is not what I expect / at the door of Divine Word Seminary / this morning..."), open a poem with a surprise, perhaps out-of-place sensation (a cheese grater on the floor of a clothing shop, the sound of rain tho it is sunny outside) and describe that place in delicate and choice sensory detail. Avoid statement. Let the senses do the talking.

 

Bio: ANGELA NARCISO TORRES is the author of Blood Orange, winner of the Willow Book Literature Award/Poetry. Her second full length collection, What Happens Is Neither, is forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2021, and a chapbook, To the Bone, from Sundress Publications in 2020. Recent work appears in POETRY, [PANK], and TriQuarterly. A graduate of Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and Harvard Graduate School of Education, Angela has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and Ragdale Foundation. She resides in South Florida where she joins the 2020 Palm Beach Poetry Festival one-on-one conference faculty.