"Concha" by Angela Narciso Torres



I remember nights in that arid town —
boxes half-unpacked, back door

cracked to orange light, frat boys’
thick laughter from a window.

Someone had Bonnie Raitt on auto-
repeat: I can’t make you love me, if you don’t

until I was convinced her pain was mine.
In the darkness, wailing. Peacocks,

the landlady smiled. I remember my first
day at the agency, a new diploma framed

above my metal desk. I arranged
paper clips for hours in my fitted suit

and sensible heels. Across the hall,
Don in his bolo tie, chair tipped back,

lizard-skin boot crossed over knee,
phone cradled in the crook of his neck.

Cigarette smoke coiled from a slit
in his door. My caseload: seven green

folders, seven children needing homes,
seven knots in my stomach not unlike,

but not quite — Christmas Eve. How,
before reading the files, I walked down

to Estrella’s for coffee and a pink-
sugared concha. How I found, back

at my desk, a single condom in its foil,
squared neatly on the stacked folders.

Driving home, dusk’s fingers slid over
sleeping adobe houses, and saguaros

thrust their stout limbs to the sky.
My landlord’s night-blooming

cereus opened its tiny mouths
but offered no words.

Angela Narciso Torres.jpg

Angela Narciso Torres

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. www.angelanarcisotorres.com

Photo Credit: Staff