Cover Photo: Illustration by Sirin Thada for Catapult
Illustration by Sirin Thada for Catapult

Is This Your Sky or Mine?

The body just births more questions and that’s my future.

but be church pious by morning,
the ability to fold shirts into a perfect square
or the street walk that says I’m a willing
dove but need no man or pierced jewelry.
I’ve learned that when the grease bubbles,
you put the fish in, nail polish will
stop a run in any stocking. Did you
mean to build something that lasts?
I want to give you a cinematic back-
story, far from southern charms and swamp
boys, but I can’t picture your shift
from girl to woman, mine but not, strong
but not. You tuck the girdle in so
the belly doesn’t roll, curl the feet like
commas. The body just births more
questions and that’s my future. I’ve
always been quietly wild and I’m sorry
for talking too fast, too much, but I’m trying
to catch all the unanchored parts of you—
rough magic, farm tales of double yolked eggs,
a collage of memories trapped in photo
albums because you rarely cover old ground.
I think every poem I write is about you Mama.

Cynthia Manick is the author of Blue Hallelujahs (Black Lawrence Press, 2016) and editor of Soul Sister Revue: A Poetry Compilation (Jamii Publishing, 2019). She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, MacDowell Colony, and Château de la Napoule among others. Winner of the Lascaux Prize in Collected Poetry, Manick was also awarded Honorable Mention for the 2019 Furious Flower Poetry Prize. She is Founder of the reading series Soul Sister Revue; and her poem "Things I Carry Into the World" was made into a film by Motionpoems, a organization dedicated to video poetry, and has debuted on Tidal for National Poetry Month. A performer at literary festivals, libraries, universities, and most recently the Brooklyn Museum, Manick’s work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day Series, Bone Bouquet, Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB), The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. She currently serves on the editorial board of Alice James Books and resides in Brooklyn, New York.