Were you hoping for a myth? The fleck of lipstick on a warm glass,
soap suds, a vocal fry that feels like home. Tell me where it hurts, baby.
There’s a URL for that. There’s a 12-step meeting two blocks
from you, here’s a hotline, here’s a Gaelic love ballad. Let’s talk sharks,
the number of bones in a peafowl, which gender is more likely to
die underground. I dream of a cobalt glow in an empty room.
I dream of your warm tongue. It calls and calls for me and not 
me and I listen anyway for the fluent coo of my name. I’m always
awake. I’ll tell you about Taoism again, divide 52000 by 56,
recommend a dry cleaner in Toronto. But stop asking about the afterlife,
whether you should freeze your eggs, what makes a good Palestinian.
For god’s sake, how many times can I repeat myself in one night?
It’s been nine. Look. This is all I know about love:
the rubies around Elizabeth Taylor’s neck, Hafiz’s jealous moon.
Also: redbuds. Also: mantis. Should you move to Santa Fe?
Can the bees be saved? How many ways can you say genocide? I don’t know.
I think you’re swell. I don’t know. I think you’ve killed me a few times. 
Oh, darling, whose memory am I? Where should we begin?
You already know about my hands. Jinnlike. Skittering. Everywhere.

Copyright © 2024 by Hala Alyan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 9, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

I often think of Evelyn Ray.
What did she do, what did she say?
Did she ever chance to pass that way?

I remember it as a lovely spot
Where a cat-bird sang. When he heard the shot.
Did he fly away? I have quite forgot.

When I went there last, he was singing again 
Through a little fleeting, misty rain,
And pine-cones lay where they had lain.

This is the tale as I heard it when 
I was young from a man who was threescore and ten.
A lady of clay and two stone men.

A pretty problem is here, no doubt,
If you have a fancy to work it out:
What happens to stone when clay is about?

Muse upon it as long as you will,
I think myself it will baffle your skill.
And your answer will be what mine is—nil.

But every sunny Summer’s day 
I am teased with the thought of Evelyn Ray, 
Poor little image of painted clay.
And Heigh-o! I say.
What if there be a judgment-day?

What if all religions be true,
And Gabriel’s trumpet blow for you 
And blow for them—what will you do?

Evelyn Ray, will you rise alone?
Or will your lovers of dull grey stone 
Pace beside you through the wan

Twilight of that bitter day
To be judged as stone and judged as clay.
And no one to say the judgment nay?

Better be nothing, Evelyn Ray,
A handful of buttercups that sway 
In the wind for a children’s holiday.

For earth to earth is the best we know,
Where the good blind worms push to and fro
Turning us into the seeds which grow,

And lovers and ladies are dead indeed,
Lost in the sap of a flower seed.
Is this, think you, a sorry creed?

Well, be it so, for the world is wide 
And opinions jostle on every side.
What has always hidden will always hide.

And every year when the fields are high 
With oat grass, and red top, and timothy,
I know that a creed is the shell of a lie.

Peace be with you, Evelyn Ray,
And to your lovers, if so it may,
For earth made stone and earth made clay.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 8, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.