Manzano Mountain Review is an online New Mexico literary journal affiliated with UNM-Valencia.

Self-Portrait of my Mother as a Cliff Face 

by John Sibley Williams

Eyes: gray smudges on a hard
gray swatch: shale & striations, 
moss, a few swallows building 
nests from mud & plummet.
Even here, ankle-deep in stars
prayed to & stars abandoned
for a brightness that can be
passed openly between palms
like an Indian Head nickel or
matchstick or urn, I forget silence
is the source of all echoes, home
the high-water stain on that cliff
where all suicides are too briefly gods.
It doesn’t take long for water
to find an escape route or us
to lean our flames against a wall
of infinities or infinity to lose
patience & drown itself in promise.
It’s true: the ocean is set on repeat.
Equally true: this vastness between 
masses of land turned out to be just 
another door thrown wide as a mouth,
both entrance & exit.

John Sibley Williams is the author of As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Poetry Prize) and Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize). An eleven-time Pushcart nominee and winner of various awards, John serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review. Publications include: Yale Review, Atlanta Review, Prairie Schooner, Massachusetts Review, and Third Coast.