The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2023

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APRIL 2023 Issue
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Instructions: How to Find Joy When Lost

Things You’ll Need

your third eye
1 pair of flared yoga pants that grazes the ankle
if you’re a water sign – salt and vinegar chips
if you’re an earth sign – honey roasted peanuts
a fascination with stars
discarded bubble wrap
a picture of a Peanuts character
seltzer water
reliable memories
a reflective surface
your wash-day bra (if applicable)
1 song to flood the soul
1 song to call all arms (eye of the tiger is not allowed)
1 baby picture
2 dark chocolate squares

First take your temperature, are you running hot as a
minotaur? If so, pull out the seltzer water, drink and
dab a drop on your wrists. Know that there is joy in
the water you come from, the water you swallow.

Open your third eye – when was the last time you
looked at the moon? A month ago, a year? Eat a honey
roasted peanut or vinegar chip. Imagine the moon has
a neck that bends, give it a different name. A name
of a childhood friend or character.

When was last time you whistled, where the wind
asked a question? Pull up that memory. With pants
and bra that makes you feel like a would-be conqueror,
practice walking down hallways.

Say your full name out loud like an announcer from
above. If you have a long-unbuttoned shirt, peacoat,
or duster that can billow behind, great. Leave sparks
in your wake and in every reflective surface.

Pull up song 1 or 2. Sing the chorus but feel free
to make up or mumble the verses. If an imagined
audience is needed, pop the bubble wrap for sound.
You are pulling something out of yourself and
making room for what comes next.

If you’re a mother or grandmother, there is won-
drous meat in the world that came from your body.
If you have breath, you are connected to all things.

Now pull up a picture of your baby self and some
chocolate– tell him or her that when they discovered
language, they discovered a whole universe and system
of smiles. Now how do you feel?


Cynthia Manick

Cynthia Manick is the author of the poetry collection No Sweet Without Brine (Amistad, 2023). She lives in Brooklyn, NY.


The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2023

All Issues