The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Soul Sister Revue: A Poetry Compilation by Cynthia Manick

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

When you find your people you’ll still look over your shoulder sometimes
to see if you’re being followed. You’re hoping one or two people you don’t
know will want to see where you’re going. When you find your people
they won’t ask you where you came from because they’ll already know
& if they don’t they’ll be busy putting good food on your plate & asking you
if you’re hungry or broke. When you find your people they’ll tell you
to use any bathroom you want, marry anybody you want, work side-by-side
together for long hours in close quarters without any fear of being harmed.
When you find your people they’ll throw the ball to you, offer you
their love song & say you need to listen to this track & dance with us
whether or not you know all the steps. When you find your people
they’ll say Do You Remember & you’ll say Yes until you remember together
the different ways the whole thing happened. When you find your people
they’ll say wear whatever you want, wear the tightest dress, wear the hot pants,
wear your birthday suit. They’ll say we love your skin & drag & natural hair
& we love you naturally so please just live & don’t let anybody kill you
or tell you they’ve killed you & you’re just fine the dead way you are. When you
find your people don’t leave them & don’t let them off the hook when they are
in the wrong. When they are trying to take themselves out of the world
lay your hands on them & call them yours & yours & yours.
When you find your people be sure you’ve been preparing your heart
the entire way by loving your difficult self & what you pretend you don’t know
but you do so that when you see them smiling into your eyes, the soft
or tough flags of their hands covering yours in a truth so light & fierce you see
you all have been midair for some time & could go higher & burn some shit up
if you remembered what else is good everywhere
& everywhere you look.

This selection comes from the book, Soul Sister Revue: A Poetry Compilation, available from Jamii Publishing.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.

Cynthia Manick is the author of Blue Hallelujahs (Black Lawrence Press) and editor of Soul Sister Revue: A Poetry Compilation (Jamii Publishing, 2019). She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, MacDowell Colony, and Château de la Napoule among others. Winner of the Lascaux Prize in Collected Poetry, Manick was awarded Honorable Mention for the 2019 Furious Flower Poetry Prize. She is Founder of the reading series Soul Sister Revue; and her poem “Things I Carry Into the World” was made into a film by Motionpoems, an 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, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. She currently serves on the Editorial Board of Alice James Books. Jamii Publishing can be reached via Twitter at @jamiipub.

Rachel Eliza Griffiths is an artist. Her most recent collection of poetry is Lighting the Shadow (Four Way Books, 2015). Griffiths’ work has appeared widely, including The New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Progressive, Gulf Coast, Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica, Lit Hub, Buzzfeed, American Poetry Review, BAX: Best American Experimental Writing (2016), and many others. She is a recipient of numerous fellowships including Kimbilio, Cave Canem Foundation, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Provincetown Fine Art Work Center, Millay Colony, and Yaddo. She lives in New York City.

Nilsa Rivera writes about gender and diversity issues. She’s also the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe for Sundress Publications. Nilsa’s work appeared in the Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, and Selkie Literary Magazine. She lives in Riverview, Florida with her husband, son, and other multi-species family members.


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