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Cynthia Manick: a poem

Urban Tumbleweed

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


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