At first I thought it was just apertures
and light, my father lifting the trunk –
shades of my suitcases and his back
bent down. Our ritual of airport
pick-ups and half-speak normal –
except for the well-used baby stroller
covered like an almost secret.
He wades away from my gaze,
questions the weight of brass arrows.
Am I urban tumbleweed?
Remembered only through cornea
side-glances, green M&M fingerprints
I smudged on dashboards as a child.
Is he making new tribes? Swiping
teeth from pillows, leaving dollar
bills instead of quarters. I know
he stopped smoking recently but
in pictures my five-year old barrettes
smell like Newport's, fast food, Al
Green melodies, and fights or loud
silence at a kitchen table at night.
Has he taken them to daycare with
pencil holders shaped like trains?
Do they have nicknames? My mouth
tries to open—but instead I make bee
colonies and dune bugs light-hearted
in poems so we don't have to speak.
Cynthia Manick is the author of Blue Hallelujahs (Black Lawrence Press) and editor of Soul Sister Revue: A Poetry Compilation (Jamii Publishing, 2019). She is the founder of the reading series Soul Sister Revue, and her work has appeared in Callaloo, Poem-A-Day, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. You can find her on cynthiamanick.com.