- Inheritance, and: Which Ever Way, and: Would You Miss Me?
What will I do with my grandmother's deep blackcast iron skilletunder my mother's rusting bleached stove?
Heavy stone, oiled star.
My mother who's worked all her life for this little blue house,
what about what her hands did?
And the hands my grandfather gave to all of them?
My aunts' green thumbs wound around a squash's vine?
What will happen to the bodies we left in the ground, in the street,
the uncles on the fireplace mantles,
the cousins we've misplaced?
This land didn't treat my grandmother right while living,
I can only imagine
what it'll do to her bones. [End Page 146]
Which Ever Way
I ran 95 North, 95 South, 40 West, 40 Eastall the way to the plastic-filled Atlantic. I closedmy eyes to every rest stop, truck stop, state flower,the broken-in heads deer lining the roadlike a parade crowd. Every tree on i-85 leansover me like a holy woman, and if they could speakwould say again and again the wind the wind,like speaking with an aunt after her stroke,a mind on a freeway filled with unrecognizable bones.
I died on 96 North, I was a ghost on 96 South,US 64 East all the way to my mother's house,in every direction I was leaving, in every directionit smelled like blood, a body under a turkey vulture–filled sky,a jar of coins my uncle kept on his dresserthat he hoped would save his life someday.
On the map I'm making he's at every turn,every street on the Southside is still black,charcoal doesn't give you cancer,so every night is a cookout marked by smoking stars.
A chalk red cardinalwill always mean I love you.
The dead mark the living on bone mapsas whole cities they can enter,walk around in with no reason to run. [End Page 147]
Would You Miss Me?
I'm far away from my living, the deadin me are birds,
the wind finally gave my uncle wings.I hope this storm miles off will carry me to him,the heart is not a cardinal it can't leave on its own without the body.
If wings grew out of my backmy heart couldn't take their beating,so I feed the birds parts of me no one called beautiful, my father's moon of a nose.
I made a room of my grief.When you ask to enter it changes itself into a room half its size.
If I didn't return the way snowbirds return with snow,song birds return songs to each other across a harvested field,
the way my grandmother returns to my dreams begging meto let her stay dead.
The light returning to her face in minutes. [End Page 148]
Tyree Daye is a poet from Youngsville, NC. He is the author of two poetry collections, River Hymns (APR/Honickman First Book Prize), and Cardinal, forthcoming from Copper Canyon. A former Ruth Lilly finalist and Cave Canem fellow, Daye won this year's Palm Beach Poetry Festival Langston Hughes Fellowship and served as the Diana and Simon Raab Writer-in-Residence at UC Santa Barbara. Most recently, he was awarded a Whiting Writers Award.