Umbrellas, because her pinky caught in one once, in a typhoon.
Driving my Mother to the Dentist I Learn of Her Fear of Umbrellas and Motorcycles
Umbrellas, because her pinky caught in one
once, in a typhoon. Motorcycles, ever since
her mother warned of the gap-toothed man
whose engine sputtered into town with his shiny
pots and pans, how he’d snatch her away
if she didn’t finish her greens. A jeepney
pours carbon monoxide through our window.
We inch our way, she unravels
her stories of the war, tells them as though
she were ten again, running through paddies
knee deep in mud and leeches, scattered
gunshot ringing the bowl of night. Huddled
in a shelter with her sisters, hunger’s tooth
in her belly, she fell asleep to a squalling
newborn, a teaspoon scraping a tin
of powdered milk, the sweetest
never to pass her lips.
Now she is silent, she who was once
all music, fervor and fire, who can’t recall
what she had for breakfast, or whose
bright-eyed boy played at her feet
this morning. Beyond the traffic,
the cracked plains stretch to the hills.
By Angela Narciso Torres
Angela Narciso Torres was born in Brooklyn and raised in Manila. Her poems
are available or forthcoming in Baltimore Review, Cimarron Review, Crab Orchard Review,
Cream City Review, North American Review, Rattle, and other publications. A Ragdale
artist fellowship recipient in 2010, she holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College
and co-edits RHINO. She lives in Chicago.