Manissa McCleave Maharawal

East River, November

The first frost of the year
not yet upon us. The marigolds,
tender in their will to live, even now,
in November when they should
be dying. The leaves that
tumble their last action that of
burning brilliant.

Sometimes next to the
East river, or on the
cross-town bus,
sometimes then.

I can feel the earth turning on its axis.
Feel the places we used to go, New Jersey
is jealous, Hudson and Queens
have been missing us.
The way we used to gather
leaves, held close to the heart,
but ready. They were gifts.

In November, winter’s edge
on the horizon. My mother,
her depression a gift, firmly
clasped, sincerely given.
Such sincere gifts not
to be refused.

But I need more than this.
Need the dying to make room
for me, need to know that I can
tell the future from the past.

Author Portrait

Manissa McCleave Maharawal is a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center in NYC. She received the 2014 Haas Scholarship to attend the The Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and is the co-organizer of the reading series “So-Called Marginalia” in New York City. Recent poems have been published in Berkeley Journal of Sociology and Narratives of Displacement: a zine. She is from and lives in Brooklyn, NY.