Leah Umansky

July 24, 2017 Umansky Leah



The time is naturally over. It is another morning. Lie
Still, but declare the carpet of marigolds at your tongue, yours. Raise
Your lips to the flock of sunlight at your door and tell yourself to Man
Up.  There is no mourning now.  Another day is another brilliant and readied
Start, or another delicate storm of possible. Stand
Straight. Look away from the blinding. It is best

Taken with a whirling steam of night. I can’t remember the last time I thought it best
To stand so completely honest with the world, with myself. We lie.
It is so easy to lie, but I know that even lies have colors and they stand
Out against the dark. How can there be a living gem inside me when I cannot raise
Another hope to the sky, another winged account of song and shade and readiness.
I ready my wild, it is a fiery double, but I do it before the skies and the sea, before man.

I said I was falling apart. I said it in a stern voice, and with a whopping fear, Man
I am falling apart, but it was not so. All was gone in a flowering of what is best.
All was gone as if a great thinning flattened all the worst feelings into a reddened
Furling, the way joy can be defensive, or the way fire can be tinkered into flame.  Here’s a lie:
I can handle my emotions. It is ruining me. I sing myself the cadence of tongues raised
High in song, in might, in glory. Glory. Glory.  But to come to the whirl of calm, I must stand

Aside.  I must jump from the fear, and see the circling below, spiral the hurt, stand
Back and rise at the way the sound of my heart blossoms. I must manage
The way a bond is unbreakable until a thousand flowers raise
Their heads to you in scent. Send the rising in your throat away and swat it.  Best,
What I like best, is how the way I need is never destroyed.  The way all those who lie
Know the fright within their city. Their body’s green, yellow and red.

You can bring yourself to a standstill, if you choose, but red
Almost always means stops, means rest, means stand
Back and breathe. I might cover myself in flight, or sky, or clover, all to lie
Myself into believing that I am stronger than my stresses. I tell myself, Man
Up. I tell myself nature is more than glorious, and I feed myself the best
Choices: the best meats and berries. Look, raise

A glass. Raise two. Why don’t we just raise
The whole damn bottle of red?
Some of us might say what we feel is best.
Some of us might inspire other elements to action, but I stand
Alone and it is not evolutionary.  It is barely manageable.
It is practically a lie,

But one worth telling. I am bold in this lie I raise to my lips.
I salute the readiness of myself and I manipulate the rest.
For the joy of no longer standing alone, that bold sprig is best left to blossom.

Leah Umansky is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently, OF TYRANT, forthcoming with The Word Works in April 2024. She earned her MFA in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and has curated and hosted The COUPLET Reading Series in NYC since 2011. Her creative work can be found in such places as The New York Times, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A Day, Rhino, POETRY, and American Poetry Review. Her new hybrid-memoir, DELICATE MACHINE, is an exploration of womanhood, hope, and heart in the face of grief and a global pandemic. She can be found at www.leahumansky.com or @leah.umansky on IG.