by magda manning
magda manning is a writer and educator who grew up in the high desert of Taos, New Mexico. They received their MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College in 2019. They are interested in the way writing and oral storytelling intertwine with culture, identity and land. They spend their free time gardening, reading and hiking around Northern New Mexico.
What are the things of the present and the things of myth?
I’ve made myth out of, not what her fingers did to me, but my fingers and what they said to each other when wrapped in warm slick, recorded and touching words found in each cervix.
What is a cervix?
Place I rest my wrist, place I sleep, where tongue does what it do. Motion, muscle, deepest blue: a water I knew once: fully naked coastline of pastel houses.
Do I remember the houses or the color?
Some places are more feeling than image, or image drained of color. The two women in my family that died of cirrhosis were named Jinx and Joy. Grandmothers, I want to say red, but the reality is more yellowed, everything stained. In Taos some people have the same Saltillo tiles in their sunrooms: makes the recollection easier, or communal, having one color in common.
What is it I want to remember about the tile?
Imagined mass of her, held up against the shower, a tongue in my collarbone. Turns the water off to save something, not myself.
What can I save in the desert?
Remember the sun behind sky of smoke, slipped in mind’s cabinet, filed under: necropastoral. Same as her scarred and shaved head, the bodies of cattle: how thirst bloats first and then turns them small, jerked meat shrunk around bones.
What killed the deer?
I wake up in a bed unable to breath or move. Whimpering in my sleep, she says, like a sheep, wounded. Earlier we happened upon the body of a deer: pooled blood fresh and wet, one hoof stuck through its head and out the eye socket.
How many times have I tried to write this day and failed?
We were in South Dakota, in the woods, and the deer was dead, hoof coming out its eye, horrible and wet. I wanted to leave then.
What happened next?
We drove to the little motel, where the three men followed us to our door. All the locks click and you are on top of me. To be inside like this, quieted brain: the right kind of fists and the right kind of screams.
What was I dreaming?
If you put your arm in someone far enough to make their eyes do that wiggle, flip, jerk, it’s like snow inside: all muffled and whited out. This dream, almost quiet. You spent minutes trying to wake me, and it takes almost an hour to get to the hospital. There’s a train we meet on those washboard roads, mesa similar to home.
Can I describe home at this point in my life?
(and is) this pointing to the present, or the moment when that dream ended?