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Brooke StanishJanuary 19, 2023

I was 19 when I let no manna meet my lips—
though it shattered down from heaven,
I couldn’t eat it. 30 pounds less & sliding
by the minute like those pieces of bread from
God’s brow. how many calories are in a crumb
from His hands? too many & then I won’t fit
into my life anymore, my tiny purple dress with
little flowers like golden bundles of wheat
the Israelites lugged in cradles on their backs—
the dress my little sister wore in the 6th grade.
what is weight? gravitational pull, value, self.
I was a number flickering at my toes—
the waters of the Jordan licking the feet of the
wanderers before the crossing, but there’s an earth
to live before the crossing
. I looped a belt across
my waist sometimes to make sure I hadn’t grown.
maybe a small Israelite girl did the same thing
with a rope, wandering in the desert—always
thinking that God was a size she had to fit into.
maybe one day, someone unwound that rope
from her waist, her neck & set her spinning.
maybe she woke up, a piece of manna in her bony fist
that she swallowed in one breath, the waters
recoiled & she realized, as if in dreaming,
she crossed the Jordan with someone else’s feet.

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