Jennifer C. Manion
Though you see my spy throat
Where others see a bed
Of leaves and moss, a deer’s ear
Chrysanthemums left to illumine
The monk’s cell
You wait and go
No further, the way
I hold water in my mouth
Pretend to swallow
My spy throat, not
Just wing but
Hawk’s beak and snare
Nestled in its silk pouch
Hand, wristed, not
Just this sleeve’s
You wait and see
How the water moves down
My throat, tell me
Wait and go
No further, we two
Will drink once more
Before we put up
Our hair, take up
Flowers in everyone’s hands
We hold the invitation
Minutely. Back door. Come in. Back down.
Wish for a longer life stinging around her neck.
We suspect a nemesis.
We say what's my middle name, what was your word for me.
We are back, say back right now, say a child is a balm is a bee.
Mutation of buttons and heirlooms.
She says we run too absent, says some lose their leaves while
The small varieties stay ever green.
Not Caused by Anything in This World
We have a lot of really abstract emotions, not caused by anything in this world…
You can wake up in the morning and you are happy. Extraordinarily happy with no traceable cause.
—Agnes Martin, painter
This is the leaning of sunlight
the weather has flung up its dress
accepting a sweet start
This is what is spoon-fed fondly
what is a future feather
something swimming beneath a hanging chance
like a broken halter
When she went round-the-world
landing in Bombay with strangers, she fell
into a trance, was taken off the boat and, for a month
in the hospital, hung like a white moth, a dangling button.
In catatonia’s luminescence, she blew out
imbued as newly
This is a canvas where lines
cross under color
what is freed measurement of sitting still
in open hope
bravery of the unstrung
the way my wing misunderstood white
Page in a schoolgirl’s notebook
Penciled letters pleat the edges.
She favors clouds, would pin their stems
Down as the sisters pin ledges
Of wimples, her failing, falling hem
Call her simple for not speaking
French, for being left with them.
Into folds of snow as seeking
The world’s white sleeves, she
Finds again the garden, creaking
Branches of the arching elm tree.
L’orme, the sisters tell her. She hears arm
And warm, presses what she’s free
To say against the trunk’s own alarm.
It’s winter still. Mittens hardening
To wooly ice. Cold gathering to harm.
The convent bells begin to ring
And she, transparent as some unborn thing.
Silhouette: Ana Menieta
No hum in the photograph
no unseen apartment no
blood or feathers brick sidewalk
no brook at the time of her death
she was searching
no gravesites no archeological
ruin no forests in Mexico no Cuba
no pyrotechnics no fire for her
origins a studio no branding
iron in burning cloth
no earth-body mud no home-
land no firsthand hallmark
no silhouette no outcropping
no sand traced as scarecrow as
body overwhelmed from exile
Jennifer Manion received her PhD from Johns Hopkins University and currently writes and edits in Minneapolis, MN, where she misses the ocean. Her poetry has appeared in Fence, inch and three candles, among other journals.