A Poem from Rachel Mannheimer

From Fortunio Liceti’s Monsters (1665), courtesy of the Public Domain Review


This is an important bird area.
Call the chickadees by their name—

dee dee—

Say grebe and it’s the sadness
in their throats.

The mudflats just quietly moan.

Some men have gone for the flanks—
teeth sinking like a fence into mud.

Others trail saliva from the ruby of the neck.

The Tlingits took their formlines
from the markings at the eyes,

Coverts of wing and tail
and the way the wood grooves.

I saw it in a dream—

Shapes flying off the birds,
the dark geometry of blankets.

The signs where you’re allowed to walk
and where you won’t be recognized.


Rachel Mannheimer is an Alaska-born, New York-based writer and book editor. Her poems are generally closely guarded in an accordion file in her home.