Poet of the Week: Cynthia Manick

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Blue Hallelujahs from the Hand
        after Carrie Mae Weems Kitchen Table Series


In the right light I’m beautiful.

Covered in flour and paprika
balled cubes of meat,
you can still see patterns
fault lines in the palm center;

the first throw of jacks
and rocks when I was six,
golden frogs that bleed
and bleep so high;

a body twirl in Sunday’s best
colored swan lake
smoothed gloves in church peach;

the steam of the hot comb
the weight of it
cause nappy heads can’t hold
cherry barrettes or the sound
of light-skinned caramel boys;

grandmothers words–
you have to pull flesh
from the throat not the belly,
you are two kins away
from pulled cotton,
don’t waste any part of the pig
stir hog soup when cold comes;
the cool wash of river
on stiff limbs when death came, settled
her like a nesting doll;

all was changed with corn whiskey
out of fruit jars, and fingers
trailing the land of bodies

Christ is amazed
with taffy babies
those shriveled sweet things–
with vein-rich palms of their own.

In the kitchen I’m beautiful.

Garlic and onion shines brown
in the light, and fistfuls of mackerel
cover nails at the seams–

it tempers a woman
cause the muscle knows
how to wield a knife
and hold close salted migrations.


Cynthia Manick’s Poets Tour Profile