I SAW YOU ON
THE DELTA QUEEN
by Cynthia Manick
The hills of Biloxi has trapped
your voice, warm molasses
bursting in air. I saw you on
the Delta Queen streaming down
river, your skin a battered peach
with eyelashes like fans.
I forget you are dead now.
The coarse sugar of memories
are strangled into knots soaked
through like sand. In mirrors a silver
shadow settles over line and limb,
like a hot bruise or two conch
shells pressed together.
Around me I hear an elegy in veils—
island roots pushing through
frogs bleating at shallow ends
and the rattle of brown things at night,
a reminder that I too was once part
of the green and the dirt.
Trudging through fields of old
grape arbors, now I see the dark
bodies of three giant unfurling
avocado trees and it’s you—watching
over us like African gods.
Cynthia Manick’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in African
American Review, Callaloo, Mythium Literary Journal, Sou’wester,
The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and Tidal Basin. Born
and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she holds a BA from Hollins
University in English and Philosophy, and an MFA from the New
School. She is a Cave Canem Fellow.