Study Abroad | Student Stories

Dawn Angelica Barcelona Poems

“jungle house”

daddy's solid heart was lodged into young-girl’s eyes,
and each time it beat she felt the capacity of fatherhood,
powerful and raw like daddy’s hands,
and each time their veins pulsed in body synchrony
she longed to pull his arteries and swing from them
like vines. like she was queen in his jungle house.

in the beginning there was a house
and a single garden well-tended.
unlike the vines that tie tree tops together
in a rainforest, daddy’s garden vines hung loose at his window.
these were the vines that let go of a house
when ever-evanescent memories escaped.

daddy spoke of the primrose often,
and how it was the burning star amongst the pebbles.
at sundown daddy always held the wide-eyed child
steady on his lap. this playful balancing act.
as if she perceived that he could tip over
with sudden change in thought,
she made sure everything was just so.
just so she could sleep well tonight.
just so she could cover her twin-lights
with the possibility of dreaming.
just so she could preserve her own memory.

imagination was young-girl’s safety net,
but too porous to break her fall every night.
laughter was as close as she could
bring herself to daddy, even as she tried to cough
away the sickness, body shuddering with cold, 
watercolor waterfall falling down her face
before asking him to tell another story
he was inspired to paint from her eyes. 

the jungle house is quiet tonight,
as he swings on its vines
from side to side like a pendulum.

“Bitterness”

The cup of tea so delicately lifted to the lips:
you slowly sip. A long sip. A sip that cannot be heard.
The hands hold in the porcelain warmth—
you breathe in the steam, misty like dew evaporating at sunrise.
Sip once more. Sip the blackness of a half-hour brew.
Bitterness.

It’s bitter like a cut on the heels from
a long walk on the cobblestone roads,
hoping to gather those seeds of inspiration
from a blooming poppy drowning deep in a sea of green.
But the poem
does not transfer well
from the brain to the pen to the page
and the blood shed on a walk has been wasted.  

Like the time you tasted your first
rhubarb stalk before understanding that
luscious ruby red can also mean bitter.
You were hungry and curious,
thinking anything green and red
would taste like Christmas—
sweet and celebratory.

Cup of morning life,
cup of bitterness.
The last sip is no longer warm,
and traces of loose tea
scratch at the back of your throat.

Yet you walk,
yet you eat,
yet you sip.

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