Dear Future Body (Keep Your Skin Thickk)

Cynthia Manick

Yesterday my legs were propped
in stirrups as the gyno said you
should go on The Biggest Loser.
I heard cities at the skull base
stuttering over each other,
vine and vowels of your rolls
and the garden under your chin.
The implied real estate of—
don’t you want to be beautiful?
Unmade and remade?
We have known the trap
of nameless and hungry
BMI indexes.
Dear God and sample size fashion,
I escape and get caught
in the same geography
again and again.
I forget I am more than a house
of great bones,
of Vaseline and Werther’s Originals.
The Caucasity of a well-meaning
she has such a pretty face.
I’m writing to tell you about
a type of war,
people carving the cavalry horses
to survive
the red outline of social media models
and how many calories is this bottle of air?
What else can we eliminate?
I always thought the planet Pluto
was a black girl,
now downgraded and mostly out.
Dear Future Body,
take a break today.
Tell me—how are your kisses?
Sometimes they give birth
to promises,
a season in the word
oil and oxygen at the ready.
Are you someone’s night bloom?
Remember to trace what remains,
the prayers your mouth learns.
I want us living, not just alive.

The Way the World Holds You

Cynthia Manick

Have you seen the city trees
as beckoned palms too often empty?
Something green pulls you to place
hands on bark, rub feet against it
like Bengal tigers or emery boards.
Some people just see the waiting coil
of subway tracks, something scurrying
out the corner of one’s eye but home
has many branches.

Witness a braided brown girl walking.
Some men say hey sweetie give us
a smile
, asks where she’s headed—
hold the fronts of their jeans like
their dicks weigh seven pounds. Others
say she has a house party on her hips.
She hears the hollow points, her breath
isn’t graceful. Imagines a tall helix armor
filled with amaranth and apple skins—
wears it like a suit when needed.

Witness the constellation of windows,
broom-filled cupboards, showers of
méringue ballads on Friday nights
and mumbling moans of tilted mouths.
Some are fighting, others are pixels
of colors as God clears her throat.

The brown girl wonders if we’re really
just things science has yet to define—
stars with people names, winter moth
wings in disguise, or undissolvable
elements that just got too big.

Cynthia Manick headshot

Cynthia Manick is the author of Blue Hallelujahs (Black Lawrence Press) and editor of Soul Sister Revue: A Poetry Compilation (Jamii Publishing, 2019). She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, and MacDowell Colony among others. Winner of the Lascaux Prize in Collected Poetry, Manick was awarded Honorable Mention for the 2019 Furious Flower Poetry Prize. She is Founder of the reading series Soul Sister Revue; and her work has appeared in Frontier Poetry, Poem-A-Day, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. She currently serves on the Editorial Board of Alice James Books.