Angela Narciso Torres

After the Ambulance


Carpenter ants picked the T-bone clean.


    The dog’s leash tautened toward

          a square of sun.


A hallway lamp wavered.


     Slice of lit motes through

          the cracked bedroom door.


Her slipper under the bed, another on the armchair.


     On the shell comb, a single strand.

          Her blue robe still damp.






a narrow bed in an endless

row of beds tucked tight

like chalk-white pills

cocooned in plastic


no visitors no cellphone no

end to night but the nurse

who relayed messages

telegraphic—send blue


bathrobe Saint Jude

rosary lime-flavored

Jell-O chenille slippers

boar bristle brush





            why am I here?    


pressed in her suitcase

between terrycloth and silk


            where is my husband?     


on a prescription slip, scribbled

in her physician scrawl


            when will I go home?


barely three days before 

the words slowed to a trickle




there was a piano she loved


   cherubs carved on rosewood


hands ripple over yellowed keys




    she nods off, chin to chest


do you want to lie down?      no


   under the palms in a blue housedress




what is your name?    she asks


   again       cherubs playing violins


sunlight slips behind ferns



Prelude and Fugue


Something of late November

   sifting through a window

brings back this prelude—


   two voices blend, I lean

into the keys, draw back

   when the voices part.


How the body remembers—

    Señora V in a floral sundress,

rose talcum, hand soft


   on the curve of my spine

imprinting what she knew

   of love and time.

How could I know  

   what those notes would mean

decades of preludes ahead.


Four Years After Diagnosis


Suddenly, rain. Our heads

  bowed together like monks

in this hot green place.


   I study the slow script

of her movements. The cross

   and uncross of her legs,


fingers forking together,

   pulling apart. Secret dialect

of her face—a firefly flick


   in the iris, lips curling

like kelp. Speak, mother.

   Your daughter is listening.



Angela Narciso Torres is the author of Blood Orange, winner of the Willow Books Poetry Award. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Colorado Review, Nimrod, Missouri Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. A graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, 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. www.angelanarcisotorres.com