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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.
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.