What Happens Is Neither

In “Feather,” a poem that appears early in Angela Narciso Torres’s book What Happens Is Neither, she describes trying unsuccessfully as a child to make a mark on the “the pebble-/washed floor” using a goose feather. “The point/is not that when night fell/there was barely a scratch. The point/ is how, armed with a feather,/I believed I could make a mark.” This collection takes us on her journey through challenges we are all helpless to prevent—the grief of losing our parents, the heart-tugs of raising a child and then sending them off into the world. Yet the beauty of the language and images she uses to convey her experiences offer a tenderness and care that keep us buoyed up along the way. Describing the progression of her mother’s Alzheimer’s: “Her memories, black pigeons flying off at dusk. Who knows where/ they spend the night? Dawn finds them back at the cote, softly/cooing.” Her father playing his violin after his cancer diagnosis: “I remember the A string/wouldn’t tune. He played/anyway. His body leaned/and swayed in its wheelchair/cage.” And in the poem “Nocturne” about a son: “What is parenting but a prayer for one’s young.” In the end, Torres has made a mark, illuminating with her pen the intertwined paths of love, grief and memory. What Happens Is Neither is available Here.

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