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By Land

by Tyree Daye

Spring/Summer 2018
Photo: darlene anita scott


Photo after photo measured 

                                          our way to Virginia Beach.

                                                        The family pressed against rest

stops, or on the hood of a car.

We measured our way by the fields connecting towns. 

23 from here to Raleigh, 

                                         mostly tobacco with big white flowers.

We were so young and present.

                                                       We still knew how to let our bodies go.


Now, a field measured out and full of my kin. 

I yell let go body into the night sky. 

                                                      Let go body, let go body, 


until I feel it like the holy ghost.

The old folks refer to this as God. 


Before I saw and took a picture of the ocean


on my phone. I wanted to place an ocean in my mother’s backyard.

                            I’ve always known it unmeasurable

                                          like fear. It hurts I’d always said. 

How could I have known 

that the sky was clear

only over the field of my willingness?


Give me back to the water, the dark bodies 

of my aunts, uncles and cousins. I’m yours 

if you need me.

Tyree Daye is a poet from Youngsville, North Carolina. He is the winner of the 2017 APR/Honickman First Book Prize for his book River Hymns. Daye is a 2017 Ruth Lilly Finalist and Cave Canem fellow and longtime member of the editorial staff at Raleigh Review. He received his MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University. Daye's work has been published in Prairie Schooner, New York Times, and Nashville Review

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