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Trees in a forest


Tyree Daye with a notebook standing on steps.

Tyree Daye (photo by Marc Hall)


By Land

I’ve lived on dirt roads that bent and ended

at a gate of pines,

the dust skipped up didn’t make my mother

look like a dream. I’ve lived

on roads that dragged through America,

I’ve paced only them to the next town.

 

The road we kissed on is gone,

rich folks buying up all the city in which we make do.

I miss when Sonny could do a wheelie

all the way down Person Street

and no one would call the police

because he was a part of the neighborhood like the honeysuckle

bush between two yards, and he was beautiful,

not like a horse standing alone in a yellow field,

but like a man is beautiful.

 

Most of the little towns have a road nicknamed Devil’s Turn,

where someone’s brother died on a Saturday night

while Nina sang Tell Me More and More and Then Some

on the Caddy’s radio,

the moon the color of the oldest cardinal.

 

Every road isn’t a way out, some circle

back like wolves, you can’t get lost on them

and they won’t lose you, others wait

for you to run out of gas then come alive

with what your mother said would take you.

 

Every road promises something like a father does,

but when you arrive the town is empty, and you wait

like a child questioning everything, the road itself

laughing like a drunk man falling into a roadside ditch.

 

The road I’m walking now is howling and full of moon,

hopefully it’ll lead to myself,

hopefully they’ll take me home.

 

By Tyree Daye, teaching assistant professor of creative writing at UNC-Chapel Hill. “By Land” is from Cardinal, Daye’s latest collection.

Read a feature story on Tyree Daye.

Watch a video of Daye reading his poem, “Miss Mary Mack Introduces Her Wings.”