No Ghost Abandoned

We still celebrate
my Grandmother’s birthday
by frying a slab of fish,
smothering flounder
in Texas Pete,
chicken in Sweet Baby Ray’s,
someone puts on Marvin,
someone says I love you.

How can we lift enough
smoke to reach you?
Our cookout has the blues,
I can’t tell you why
I walk old country roads
looking for your spirit.

I hear you speaking
near the river,
where the water
slows against rocks.

My mother says
the best thing to do
is get addicted to God.

But I write from inside my body,
what’s the price of being
obsessed with the dead?
No ghost abandoned,
you mostly
speak of wind.

Someone put on Marvin,
someone say I love you.

In my purple bedroom,
I’ve heard a woman
long dead speak of gardens,
tomatoes, squash,
white tobacco flowers, lilies
are pretty, but they are weeds.

By the elementary school
we used to pick sweet potatoes,
played games like
that’s my car,
that’s my house.

The lands murmurs
in our hands,
where to grow
the biggest melons,

the place where June Bug
finally died,
what’s so sweet
must be sacred.

We mended the horses
rubbed an old mane
until it was time,

you prepare
an old man for death
by reminding him
of his legs, of his work,

I can still see your silhouette
in the window like a kiss
to a father long gone.

In the kitchen where
I haven’t stepped-in today,
I can hear you
among the spoons
and butter knives
in the drawer.

What do you think
when you see my loneliness?
Living ghost? I must learn
the language of rain
to speak to plants
and the Genesis of how seed
turns to flower.



From River Hymns (Copper Canyon Press, 2017) by Tyree Daye. Copyright © 2017 by Tyree Daye. Used with the permission of the author.