Dog Days 2021
Autobiography of Desire
Only if I reach 100 years old will I write a very complete
autobiography. Not before…. –Mario Vargas Llosa
As I walk down the street the wind throws birds at me
whose shadows pass through my indeterminate slowness.
Dogs leap against my fragrance hours after I’ve gone,
and my hands hold together the small chapters of 10 a.m.
Dreams enter my movie and sit down in my death
to watch. I am, after all, a small manufacturer of dust.
Last night you woke up thinking you slept with a demon,
the bed sheets still warm from my blood, although I was
now two stories down in the grass, a rake in my hand
dragging bones to dry in the wind..
Do we look at the stars, or do the stars look at themselves
so hard that we feel it through our animals?
When I think of writing poems
I get lonely and think of my dog,
her last days on earth
when she shivered and trembled.
When she was young she loved to swim.
Summer mornings, before the heat came,
I’d stand with my mug of coffee
and throw the stick
far out into the black water of the lake,
and she’d heave her big black body
after it in desperation, always bringing
it back, the stick, the love. All night
she’d lay beneath my desk, sleeping
as I wrote, lightning flashing
in the storm of the mind. I remember
when she was so small I could hold her
in one hand as I worked,
how I learned to type with one finger—
all I needed to write.
[from Apropos of Nothing (Copper Canyon, 2006)
and first published in Crab Creek Review]
Waltz with Gatsby at 3 a.m.
If only sleep could help me
sweep up the confetti on the staircase,
or what it really is—shredded
cabbage on the kitchen porch.
There’s an old dog limping in the yard
and he’s my old dog. Bless the sweet
fog he roams through and call that sweet fog
God, or grass, or indeterminate years.
In the physical world, we are just bodies
losing our structure, my composition
from breadstick to cinnamon loaf,
honeycomb to just the drip of honey.
Gatsby has changed from dog
in the waves, dog in the field, to dog
needing help, when his back legs don’t hold.
We’re all trying, my dog slowly
returning to the bluesmoke
he came from, while I chop
cabbage and watch the moon
begin its slow circle into another
time zone. In my head, I am Zelda
and this is my party, but the truth is
it’s almost morning, truth is
I’m the worker bee and not the queen.
Jolted awake by a flash—
a text from my college freshman
awake in his dorm at 2 a.m.
I rub sleep from my eyes,
find an audio clip
he’s written for solo cello—
Lilli’s Urn, he names it,
for the pup who arrived
on his sixth birthday,
his companion for a decade
before we lost her to cancer.
Four minor notes plucked
in a slow chuffing beat—
the stifled sobs of mourning.
Bow dragged over strings
the cello moans, whale
sounds from the deep. Outside,
the wet boughs of a birch
cradle a quarter moon. Rain
silvers branch tips, pavement,
the whole weeping world.
[“Lilli’s Urn” from What Happens Is Neither © 2021, by Angela Narciso Torres. Appears with permission of Four Way Books. All Rights Reserved.]