Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday Poems: "The Local Language" -- by Ralph Angel

The way she puts her fingers to his chest when she greets him.

The way an old man quiets himself,

or that another man waits, and waits a long time, before speaking.
It’s in the gaze that steadies, a music

he grows into—something about
Mexico, I imagine, how he first learned about light there.

It’s in the blank face of every child,
a water that stands still amid the swirling current,

water breaking apart as it leaves the cliff and falls forever
through its own, magnificient window.

The way a young woman holds out a cupped hand, and doves come to her.

The way a man storms down the street as if to throw open every door.

And the word she mouths to herself as she looks up from her book—for
that word, as she repeats it,

repeats it.

 *     *     *     *     *

Ralph Angel was born in Seattle and earned his BA from the University of Washington and MFA from the University of California at Irvine. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

Angel has authored four volumes of poetry, including Neither World (1995), which won the James Laughlin Award, and Twice Removed (2001), in which the above poem is printed. His translation of Federico Garcia Lorca's Poem of the Deep Song won the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize. Angel has also received the Pushcart Prize and a Fulbright Fellowship.

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