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Cynthia Manick: a poem

What's Passed Down In The Making

Sometimes I smile just like my mother, as if the skin and gums remember the day I was born, between thick thighs and southern jasmine. I arrived as a red-throated ant hill, just as busy. And maybe the moon was in my half-blind eyes but I felt what was handed down – darkling skin luminous grandmother's brass comb, its teeth well-used, veins of an ancient path stumbles into prayers to put me on the side of right, and the galloping heart of a jukebox. But what did my mother dream? When she knew how much hunger the dark could contain, how close we are to mindsets behind plantation born juleps. She saw a girl surrounded by words and light, holding the body's stove close like girls are taught. Hands teaching the art of pepper oil, feet striding a ground bursting with fire lip tulips.

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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