By Carys Bowen

Poem: I chose today’s poem because it touches on a subject I was discussing recently with a friend—we were wondering what sadness would taste like. “Abandoned House/Casa Abandonado” by Rosario Ferré (daughter of Luis A. Ferré, the third elected governor of Puerto Rico) discusses what an abandoned house smells like, which turns out to be more than just the physical material present. I found the poem in Ferré’s book Language Duel/Duelo de Lenguaje, which contains the same set of poems in both Spanish and English, and I enjoyed it for the silence of the abandoned house conveyed in the short lines as well as the slight mystery over what the smell of the “something else” is exactly. (What do you think? Post a comment below!) Specific to the Spanish version, I enjoyed that reference to the title that Ferré sneaks in at the last moment.

Abandoned House

by Rosario Ferré

The room smelled of dust and spider webs,

but also of something else

I couldn’t put my finger on:

I thought it was the past,

mold and nostalgia

as if the house were reproaching me

for having aged away from it.

But I was wrong.

It’s always hard

to reconcile oneself

to the person one was,

to the one we’ve traveled so far

to leave behind.

Casa abandonada

por Rosario Ferré

La habitación olía a polvo y a telarañas,

pero también a otra cosa

que no lograba definir.

Pensé que sería el pasado,

el moho o la nostalgia,

como si la casa me reprochara

haber envejecido lejos de ella.

Pero estaba equivocada.

Siempre se nos hace difícil


con la persona que fuimos,

con la que se quedó sentada a orillas del camino

cuando abandonamos la casa.

Prompt: Choose an emotion or feeling or sensation and explore what it tastes like. Compare and contrast different ideas. Alternately, what is the taste of bones? (or another object—it’s your prompt!) Try to avoid stopping at saying it tastes like [food/smell/other here]. Why does it taste like that? What qualities are in common? Post your poem in the comments below!

Header image caption: The cover of Rosario Ferré’s book.