Laurel Porterfield Manly

Pinkie Balls

Dusty pink, firm
fit to the palm.
quiet bounce and easy catch.

Children find them
lose them
roll them throw them.

Dogs catch them in their teeth.

I see
my leap and fall -
let me have my pinkie ball.

Mermaids came
and softly went
tracing fins in wet cement.

Give me back my pinkie ball.

Little dresses,
puff-sleeved, satin-stitched
fade day to night -
pinkie balls, my yet delight.

Smells of oil and turpentine
touch of cloud-cool snakes -
vines to climb, ropes to swing

balls to catch and find.

Diving between each other's ankles,
we listen to the dolphin talk -
a day to tell our minds about,
a picture-play, a praise and shout.

Between cold early and warm late
waves surge, push walls,
thick cellulose,
wherein we bounce and bound,

pinkie balls, our mouths pushed round

like Nancy telling Sluggo NO NO NO -
where bad dogs thrash we will not go.
For now and for the next sun too.
it's pinkie me and pinkie you.


Once upon a morning time
I dug to see the gold, China,
the ocean. Again,
again, I looked, spoons bent and scattered, holes
in hillsides, under the lilacs

until I knew to bury my
own treasure. Whistles
and dimes, crayons, plastic spacemen, charms.
perfume, messages in jars. Who
rides those clouds? I ask it now

gleaning the air.
shifting my own parentheses.
writing equations, factoring out the leaves
and the wind. Who judges
this argument between tap root and stem? What is
the value of a in cicada?

Scanning the news of seed
pods swinging against shadow banks,
of cardinals in their bond, bright
binaries of female, male, to work,
work to glean or die.

In this ever-after life, my spoon
is full of words I toss into the air,
easing thought to ginger crystal,
strategy to jam and bread.

About the Author

I spent my childhood in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania, sleeping under the stars as much as possible. Later on, I spent time in Mexico, West Virginia, New York, France, South Carolina, New Mexico, and back again to Ulster County. The constants in my life are looking at the stars, drawing, painting, writing poetry and walking around in meadows, forests, and swamps. My dream is to continue on this way.
-Laurel Porterfield Manly; West Shokan, NY

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