Brianne Manning is a freelance writer, marketing strategist, and poetry alumnus of UCF’s MFA creative writing program.
Her poetry has appeared in DeadBeats as well as Blue Monday Review and is also forthcoming in Yellow Chair Review. She is a compulsive pen collector and antique enthusiast.
Departure from Loneliness
She hasn’t burned since childhood,
fishing for crabs from the Ogunquit channel
with hotel dental floss and bits of lobster.
The yellowed splay of thorny stalks
never dies but is instead forced
from home to home, banished
to the far corners of patios
or windowsills in guest rooms,
like a mutt purchased to fill the void
of childless corridors
or cold, barren sheets,
never to be heard or seen.
They say plants thrive on music,
so she sets it on the piano
once a week while she keys Chopin,
but it remains yellow and sad,
like a hospital patient waiting
to be moved to a new room,
a new wing,
for new or lack of progress.
Having the aloe on hand means
more than healing:
a departure from loneliness
when she’s never heard or seen.
Last night I saw a face
above me, hovering,
The breath had vanished,
flew out the window
into the still silence of night.
The eyes belonging to the face
stared, beseeching me to scream
so they could retreat
into the dismaying darkness
of the space around us.
I lie in breathlessness,
newfound emptiness too,
because there was a time
when those eyes looked on in love
and rolled back into their sockets
in saluted ecstasy.
Bring Me Back
Beyond that curtain of trees,
we followed a brook as if it might lead
us somewhere else and listened
to birds through bonnets from before our time.
Beneath that pond, in winter, do the toads
sleep or cuddle up to their mothers, waiting
to bubble up to the surface again in spring
and lay eggs near the banks beneath the bowing birches?
Behind that bedroom door, we spoke
to Barbie dolls and braided hair
before we knew what boys were like
or the many ways we would bloom.
Bring me back to those days,
and we can burn the evidence
of who we’ve become and better remember
what it was to be free.
At the base of the toilet,
she can hear Rosie’s favorite cartoons
and a blender running in the kitchen,
Cindy brewing the daily mix
of medicine and sewage.
All of this vomiting and static,
never dying but stuck in this state
of Pain in the Ass and Help Me Bathe
or useless blob of Grey and Wrinkles.
She stopped saying Thank You
because of the look on her son-in-law’s face,
reminders of the money spent
on medical bills instead of investing
in Rosie’s future.
She dreams of the night in which
she Falls Asleep,
ridding them of their burdens
and, she hopes, the memories of her like this.