Laura Manuelidis

At the edge of the garden


The donkey I used to laugh at

Carried me up the mountain:


            Not that animal with perfect even teeth

            Not that Arabian with rounded hard cheeks

                        whose sweat becomes perfume

between my thighs

Irresistible in stampede

                        with his stallion snort that continues

                        to paw my admiration

Kicking up ancient dust from my always present




Not that one who abandoned me

When I had no water left in my womb:



Only my darling donkey lifted me up the mountain

                        of my mistakes

                        so many that she whinnied for them

Nibbling the poppies        : encouraging the evening

Apple to shine blissfully.       I watch her small, left deft hoof now

            As it steps over the crevasse.    

            Also her outsized head, always quizzical.



No wonder the Arabian of my first dreams

Wants to mate with my silly donkey.



Here she stands in a moving film

Recording the downcast

Rubble of the concrete arms


Bearing the frayed

Sounds of her language — how she says mother—

Rubble of the human home.


Now she knots her shawl

As she inhales another day of broken pots:

            “I beseech you, with the oiled steam


Whistling through the cracks in my clay

To stop the bombs, the fires eating us:

            Which way can one turn?”


Swaddled in black cloth

Stars have no freedom to annotate her space.

Where is the future, the dromedary to carry her

With crumbled tablet of graven dates?


“Sometimes I envy the dead” she said.


                                                            Syria, 2015


Laura Manuelidis is a physician and neuroscientist at Yale who found how repeated DNA sequences define chromosome folding and structure. She is the author of two books of poems: Out of Order (iUniverse, 2007) and One / divided by Zero: poems (CreateSpace, 2014). Her work, which appears in Oxford Poetry, The Nation, and Evergreen Review, has been nominated for Pushcart prizes. She continues to investigate infectious causes of dementia and to publish scientific articles and other essays.



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