Her sadness is coarse and thick as a horsehair overcoat.
As a child I tried it on. Its heavy folds engulfed me.
I learned to balance the weight on my head the way
fruit sellers carried baskets of mangoes on their crowns.
Mornings it cloyed to my throat like the hairy pits of drupes.
My eyes teared. I tried to spit. It insisted, impeded my breathing.
I swallowed the bitter seed. Washed it down like the whale
who gulped a grown man and kept him in darkness for days.
As a child I learned from an aunt:
if you swallow a seed, a tree will grow in your stomach.
I nurture her sadness like a sapling.
Decades of summers pass. The tree fruits.
Lay your hand on my chest. Feel the heft
of sour-sweet drupes my mother’s tears have fed.
Angela Narciso Torres, author of Blood Orange (Willow Books Literature Award for Poetry), has recent or forthcoming work in POETRY, Missouri Review, Bellingham Review, Quarterly West, and Cortland Review. A graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program and Harvard Graduate School of Education, Angela has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and Ragdale Foundation. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Manila, she’s a senior and reviews editor for RHINO and serves on the editorial panel of New England Review.