Urban Tumbleweed

Poetry / Cynthia Manick

At first I thought it was just apertures
and light, my father lifting the trunk—
shades of my suitcases and his back

bent down. Our ritual of airport
pick-ups and half-speak normal—
except for the well-used baby stroller

covered like an almost secret.
He wades away from my gaze,
questions the weight of brass arrows.

Am I urban tumbleweed?
Remembered only through cornea
side-glances, green M&M’s fingerprints

I smudged on dashboards as a child.
Is he making new tribes? Swiping
teeth from pillows, leaving dollar

bills instead of quarters. I know
he stopped smoking recently but
in pictures my five-year old barrettes

smell like Newport’s, fast food, Al
Green melodies, and fights or loud
silence at a kitchen table at night.

Has he taken them to daycare with
pencil holders shaped like trains?
Do they have nicknames? My mouth

tries to open—but instead I make bee
colonies and dune bugs light-hearted
in poems so we don't have to speak.

Cynthia Manick is the author of Blue Hallelujahs (Black Lawrence Press, 2016). A Pushcart Prize nominated poet with a MFA in Creative Writing from the New School; she has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, and Poets House. Manick serves as East Coast Editor of Jamii Publishing and is Founder of the reading series Soul Sister Revue. Her work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day Series, African American Review, Bone Bouquet, CallalooThe Wall Street Journal, and  elsewhere. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.