Your rocking chair sways by itself now,
a phantom southern belle of floral cotton
the snapping of peas nipping at tips. In your
youth, twirling in taffeta and silk, a pastel fan,
a curve of lip, you’re a debutante. Feet bare
of cloth, you run through fields, ants on ankles—
belly moving to the sound of bullfrogs. Holding
your hand and a strand of poppies, your brother
leads you to a tree where peaches fly. And there
you sit, stuffing pits of cherries into the side
of your cheeks and nose. Have you seen Mr. Nat?
They placed him in a wicker chair, brown toes
cocked up towards the Carolinas. The cancer flies
gathered in his pockets, death followed and settled.
Is he there yet? Now you are on the porch. That house
of white shutters and long-necked bottles of coke.
My father lies on your lap, head lolled to crickets, and
you begin to sing, “mah honey, mah honey, mah honey.”
Cynthia Manick is the author of Blue Hallelujahs (Black Lawrence Press, 2016). She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, and the MacDowell Colony among others. Winner of the Lascaux Prize in Collected Poetry, Manick was also awarded Honorable Mention for the 2019 Furious Flower Poetry Prize. She is Founder and Curator of the reading series Soul Sister Revue; and her poem “Things I Carry Into the World” was made into a film by Motionpoems, a organization dedicated to video poetry, and has debuted on Tidal for National Poetry Month. A performer at literary festivals, libraries, universities, and most recently the Brooklyn Museum, Manick’s work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day Series, Callaloo, Kweli Journal, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.
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