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Cynthia Manick: a poem

I Could Be a Boxer

I have a history

of growing wisdom

teeth, parting my gums

like persimmon fruit

and making it look easy.

Like bright dead things

look easy or carving

S.O.S. in fresh cement,

the branch moving

like an arm or leg.

But I know my body –

it's a stove that learned

early how to bake

a life or take one.

Like mending a crow's

wing when I was eight,

its feathers thick

enough to fill an urn.

And birthing that tooth?

was like punching

a bruised rib but

I took it like God

was in my throat

telling me not to cede.

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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