All in by Angela Narciso Torres

by Angela Narciso Torres


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.

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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. 

by Angela Narciso Torres

Truth is, one can’t write about the soul. Looked at, it vanishes.

Why have I so little control?

One wants to finish sentences.

To go adventuring on the streams of other people’s lives.

 

Why have I so little control?

This is the normal feeling, I think.

To go adventuring on the streams of other people’s lives.

I take a census of happy people, and unhappy.

 

This is the normal feeling, I think.

Happiness is a little string onto which things will attach. 

I take a census of happy people, and unhappy. 

How Vita’s inkpot flowered on her table.

 

Happiness is a little string onto which things will attach.

How can I express the darkness?

How Vita’s inkpot flowered on her table?

Shall I remember any of this?

 

How can I express the darkness?

At this moment, all we wish is to escape seeing.

Shall I remember any of this?

I am repeating things.

 

At this moment, all we wish is to escape seeing.

The world swinging round again, bringing its greens and blues.

I am repeating things.

My pen protests. This writing is nonsense, it says.

 

The world swinging round again, bringing its greens and blues.

Time flaps on the mast—my own phrase.

My pen protests. This writing is nonsense, it says.

But what little I can get down with my pen.

 

Time flaps on the mast—my own phrase.

Winter has set in. Draw the curtains, light the fire, and so to work.

But what little I can get down with my pen.

I am giving up the hope of being well dressed.

 

Winter has set in. Draw the curtains, light the fire, and so to work.

Truth is, one can’t write about the soul. Looked at, it vanishes.

I am giving up the hope of being well dressed. 

One wants to finish sentences.

Source: The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Volume 3. 1925-1930. Edited by Anne Olivier Bell

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Angela Narciso Torres’s poetry collection, Blood Orange, won the Willow Books Literature Award. Recent work appears in Nimrod, Spoon River Poetry Review, Jet Fuel Review, and Water~Stone Review. A graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program, Angela has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Illinois Arts Council, and Ragdale Foundation. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Manila, she serves as a poetry editor for RHINO and a reader for New England Review. See www.angelanarcisotorres.com.