Laura Manuelidis

Without cure

A closed window.
A prison of ghost birds:
The altar prisoner looks mournful
Inside the carved wooden frame
         Its iron latch a perpetual
         Winter of Saturn.

Incessant detentions, these
Judgments straightjacket our house.
It makes one insane.
I walked up the echoing stairs
         To the locked wards
         Where no doctors came

Played chess on the walls
Squared by shadows—shivering light—
With Chekhov a lost book, wearing his number 6.
Along the corridor, not even a dream:

        Only the stench of too many drugs

        In the urine.

Interrogation 2

We all strode in as adolescents
Under the Gothic arch with Greek letters about torches, about flames.
We took off our shoes, undressed in separate bathrooms, the men and women
Put on our greens (now blues),
Scrubbed beneath our fingernails with harsh bristles
And drenched our forearms
Vertically, moving the long curved silvery release of water with our elbows bent
Before inserting our hands into the gowns,
And then the gloves that still allowed some feeling through.
At the glass door, inspected, then opening.

It was not much different from the first day
We split it in two, the sternum, to hold the dog’s stray heart
Beating, beating, beating,       Beating vigorously still
Glowering.           Until we put it to sleep—
Its pound of existence—for the last time
Abandoned on the street.

Late now, in the glazed existence
Where the winter solstice barely lights my bathroom
I try to escape my face in the mirror.
I brush my teeth and see the trickle of toothpaste
Down my forearms that I still raise
Vertically beneath the imaginary
Bent handle that commands the faucet to open.

Once perhaps I could stop, or start in the past
Of unfortunate diagnoses.
I do nothing for no one now with what I know,
Just walk the emptied streets.

Your cheek is my pasture

Every day is most beautiful before dawn.
Even as it hides below the fog
Briefly resting on the marsh—
        Oboe sounds in grass
        Bending to the touch of early warmth

The bulk of mammals still asleep
Voles in their digs
Birds becoming sensate to their branch:

An easeful time
When only Jupiter and Venus remain
To wrestle in the ring
        The nocturnal umpire moon already heavy and low
        Falling under its full or crescent lids.

And other early days—when no thoughts clutter the sky—
Catch whatever wisp of winds slides by
Barely audible:

Yes, I will miss these summer times beside the cheeky chipmunk
Chewing my pines still plump and green on tree.
He flies off at my invasive cries, as if
        I were not with him

Words now have their first curfews, as the light
Changes costumes in this haze of heat
By 6 a.m. again inducing me to sleep

While fox on dune, unguarded, smiles
At the sudden plethora of butterflies,
And horseshoe crab, armored by the past
        Silently tracks the wet sand by the dry
        Always caught between the more —Indefinite tides—

Where small dog in the galaxy
Rests his nose between the disappearing paws of night
And lion meekly steps aside
        For morning’s rise
(Feb 2014, NYC, ice encasing everything: How the mind survives)

Laura Manuelidis is the author of
two published collections of poetry: Out of Order and One / divided by Zero. Her work has appeared in Oxford Poetry, The NationEvergreen Review, and elsewhere, and has been nominated for Pushcart prizes. She 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.



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