cover image What Happens Is Neither

What Happens Is Neither

Angela Narciso Torres. Four Way, $16.95 trade paper (110p) ISBN 978-1-945588-69-3

In this moving second book, a meditation on love, loss, memory, and motherhood, Torres (Blood Orange) faces the grueling reality of Alzheimer’s symptoms that have eroded her mother’s cognition. As her mother forgets, Torres documents their history, along with the painful daily reminders of the illness. “I am glass/ shattered, smoothed// by my mother’s nerves, pillowed beneath/ her cheek. Counted, accountable, counting,/ counted on,” she writes in “Self-Portrait as Rosary Beads.” In “Disappearing Act,” she remembers attending a family party as a child, painting the scene in rich, sensory detail as if to offer what her mother might not recall: “From a far table, the rumble of mah-jongg tiles being shuffled by a quorum of matrons,/ their lacquered nails clicking, wreathed in/ cigarette smoke.” The poems vary in form, with prose poems interspersed between those made up of couplets and other formations. Torres’s lines read effortlessly no matter their construction, breaking smoothly and fluidly, like the unraveling of memory. This collection succeeds as an altogether tender, arresting exploration of what it means to lose something essential. (Feb.)