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Disappearing Act

Mother chose the dress—mint-green with puffed sleeves. White starched collar, electric-pleat skirt, lace socks that chafed my ankles. At the party, she made me kiss everyone: aunts reeking of Joy by Jean Patou, swaybacked uncles cradling beers, my grandmother smoking clove cigarettes between puffs of her inhaler. Someone was laughing loudly. Someone played a ukulele. 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. Cousins wrestled on the scorched lawn. A small place behind my ribs felt tender, making it hard to breathe. I wanted most of all to lie in the pink shell of my room, a book within reach. Someone passed around colorful sandwiches in the shape of card suits: diamonds, spades, clubs. Someone carried a tray of fizzy drinks, handing them to the grownups. I imagined sneaking a sip and getting smaller and smaller like Alice, then crawling into Mother’s conch evening bag, the clasp closing overhead with a satisfied click. Mother whispered a greeting to a woman in a floral print kaftan. I vanished into their murmurs and shadows, a cloud of camphor and carnations.

from What Happens is NeitherFind more by Angela Narciso Torres at the library

Copyright © 2021 Angela Narciso Torres
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Published in Angela Narciso Torres Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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