Laura Manuelidis


Indian Stars


I call them Indian stars

            that flash in the sand:

Stars that drip down kernels

Darkly, secretly

            on dune grass.


No, I have no name like Alden

Standish, Bradford or English,

No skin that is truly fair;

No hands that can be disentangled

            from toil


But I have come to rescue you

From your cold-hot graveyard

My brother.

You are dark as the redness of this autumn moon

Before rain

I move with your thumping rhythms

Each time my feet are planted on your soil

and feel your emaciated hand digging for seed

So I become drunk as the flowering maize you seek



On this hill I take you, my pathfinder

As my Rebel Red

Against the gray green

Dusty miller, Bayberry dune.


Like you in the night I turn to silver fire.

Like you, I am loyal as forgotten America.

Like you, my spirit is washed

But not quelled beside this stealthy bay.

[Corn Hill, first Thanksgiving: stolen corn]




Dog eared sea's

Out again today, wagging its tail

Listening to shore

Learning to receive foam's

Animated, cold nose


Or what the clam

Cockeyed explains

Slipped between two curtained rims

Smiling with shadows of low tide

Saliva's indeterminacy


As if old claw could dig up sand

To find lost reef, anemones

Where once dreamed fish

And so crawled Man
evolutionary branch


Who rails at the edge of every wake

Where the exuberant, untamed cur


But never fully sleeps

Upon its patient, generous watch.



Rooming House, Kyoto


Fine lines appeared as her eyes

Sped their tinsel through the antechamber.

On the shelf she smiled in a photo

            beside another self:  her husband.


She told me he was kind:

I saw it in her look, the loss.

Outside a geisha, new with split plum coif1

Paused by the door:

            "No time, today, to paint."


So we stepped back through an emptied space

Except for the scuffed formica tables where she taught

Something exquisite:  Unblemished paper.


            "Calligraphy is easy if you breathe

             as poetryDeep in.       Then out."

She demonstrated:

             "Just watch."


The numerals of lines

Aligned in perfect order

Then flowed, and stretched the black.


My paint dripped novice red.

It chopped the air between my strokes.


            "The wind is good" she said.

(But the heartI knewmisshapen).


[split plum coif: worn when the novice Geisha is first broken,  a day when she is  excused from learning the other arts; black is the expert's color]


Laura Manuelidis is a physician and neuroscientist at Yale who found how repeated DNA sequences define chromosome folding and structure. She continues to investigate infectious causes of dementia, and to publish scientific articles. She has also published a collection of poetry, entitled Out of Order, contributed to diverse literary magazines including Oxford Poetry, The Nation, and Evergreen Review, and been nominated for Pushcart prizes. These poems are from a new collection, One / divided by Zero, which has just been published. 



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