Nance Van Winckel
A Man Mistakes Me for a Mannequin
Small objects, like disarticulated bones,
were circling my edges. And that finish
on the photo of a man resembling my
great-grandfather—did my staring
make it fleck away all the faster?
But he was a stranger, the album of his
life 30 percent off. I stood considering the price,
and to the one who’s just said he’s sorry
he didn’t realize I was real, I shrug.
No problem. No matter.
In the tale I’ve heard a hundred times,
my great-grandfather kicked stones
across Wales to board a ship, enter a mist,
and step out into the strange birdsong
that, increasingly, filled his letters
back to the Old World.
Nance Van Winckel teaches in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program. She is the recipient of two NEA poetry fellowships and awards from the Poetry Society of America, Poetry, and Prairie Schooner. Her fifth collection of poems is No Starling (University of Washington Press, 2007). She has new poems in Crazyhorse, Field, the Journal, and Poetry Northwest. She is also the author of three collections of short fiction.
“A Man Mistakes Me for a Mannequin” appears in our Autumn 2011 issue.