Tyree Daye writes of his home in the south, his family, his loves and losses, all with a grace and accuracy of image and language. Daye sings of hurricanes and hydrangeas, pond fishing, sun tea and the North Star, “that doesn’t lead to freedom anymore/ but you can follow it and still get killed.”
My gray umbilical cord was cut in July heat.
I was washed and hidden
in the arms of a young woman
who years later hummed in a noiseless backyard,
her face lost behind sweat, dirt.
My job was to plant the purple hydrangeas beside
the steps, gain my grandmother’s greenthumb badge.
You can’t trust men she would say, “They would fuck
a glass of water if they could.” Her legs would grow weak
before the summer ended,
the kidney cancer too far along.
The sun’s heat burned every flower we had.
The wind raced in summer heat
and broke blue from power lines.
The rain left 56 dead.
The rain doesn’t care for the small or the old.
The rain is my father, only quieter.
And when I was small and easy to kill,
I ran away from home and reached highway 97, hoping
it would look like something else.
My book bag filled with pants and shirts, my hands still shaking.
My Country Song
I went home to wild dogs and Sun Tea, where the little dipper sits right above a row of eighty year-old pines, where following the North Star doesn’t lead to freedom anymore but you can follow it and still get killed. It’s nice to talk to someone who says it’s not just you. Both of us learning ain’t no glory in the bottom of those bottles, just more country songs. Tonight my Uncle, the one they say look most like my granddaddy, staggered on beer and said the Lord's Prayer and before we said our amens my knee buckled in and I want to say it was the devil coming out of me, but it wasn't.