celina mcmanus :: “bog baby” and “prayer: a voice memo”

bog baby

a transidyll

bog baby, you have become the tamarack. are you there, bog baby? bog baby, i am not sure how to swim through the tentacles. bog baby, i am here for you. i see you under there, slimy and giggling. bog baby, let me tell you a story. once, i was just like you. only, i was enshrined in an american sycamore. she monkey-barred my whole body until i found what skin can feel like outside of human sway. she fed me small fingers of sap and whirligigs. back then i called them helicopters, but isn’t whirligigs much nicer? there’s less possible violence in it. and why is there violence attached to a seed? not all winged things slice. when seeds take flight, they have only growth in mind: tower there, tower here, whispers of coupling in an underground internet of roots. bog baby, have you ever met a violent maple? i’m wondering now, if there is any such thing as neutrality? oh, bog baby, don’t cry, i’ll tell you sweet secrets from now on. like how i found myself on an island not meant for me, swimming with humpbacks. how i tasted the crackle of okra on my tongue that traveled over stolen seas… here i go again, twisting the root until it breaks. wait, i think i’ve finally got you free. what is it now? why are you squirming toward the bog again? why, you didn’t want to be freed at all. you were already free, weren’t you?


prayer: a voice memo

after reading World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil and navigating chronic fatigue in my church’s september garden

bees on borage / cosmos pink / the swoop dip of canadian geese bathing / the bloop of a virtual vampire squid / i collect small noticings like dandruff clung to my middle-aged black cat / the small stars that hang on the limb after gathering handfuls of purple tomatoes / the scent of vegetation /  hidden cucumber / an okra plant taller than my reach / flowers flowers flowers painted as a purposeful bruise / a tear to the achilles heel after reaching for a lightning bug / a volunteer tomato plant from last years seed / i harvest / there’s still more beans / sitting among the hops / running from the rain / the enclosed mouth of a morning glory / a stranger’s faint crunches on leaves / the cucumbers wedge themselves in grates / funky but edible / it is 80 degrees this late September afternoon / there are 30 orange nasturtium flowers / the bees nibble / fuzz on fuzz / still working / unaware this excess heat is not their friend /  and, still, i go to the garden  / feeding mouths i will never meet


celina mcmanus (they/she) is a poet, educator, youth worker, and gardener from the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, territory of the Cherokee, now living in St. Paul, MN, Dakota and Anishinaabe land. They were of the first cohort to graduate from the Randolph MFA program where they were a poetry editor for Revolute. Their work has been featured in Hooligan Magazine, Peach Mag, and others. They spend their free time tinkering at their work-in-progress, in abolitionist work, and by and in bodies of water. At the woven rush intersection of their day-to-day, they reflect on adrienne maree brown’s observation that “all organizing is science fiction.”