Published on Academy of American Poets (

Field Notes on Beginning


I wear my grandmother’s bones like a housedress through the city. 
Some nights the block tells me all its problems. 
I’ll meet you at the top of the biggest rock in Rolesville 
or on train headed to a reading in Queens, just tell me where. I promise 
to gather your bones only for good. 
I was not swallowed by the darkness between two buildings. 
I don’t want to die in the south like so many of mine. I want to be carried back. 


I dreamed we were digging in a field in Rolesville 
looking for an earth we knew the name of. 
You stepped into the hole, looked behind you and gestured me in. 
I saw every lover who held you while your children slept 
in rooms of small heaters, you wrap the blankets so tight, 
afraid of any cold that might get in. 


I said my goodbyes, my dead will not come. I will not see a cardinal in the city 
so I drew one on my chest. A coop inside a coop inside of me. 
Leaving is necessary some say. There is a whole ocean between you and a home 
you can’t fix your tongue to speak. Others do not want me 
no further than a length of a small yard, they ask where are you going Tyree? 
Your mama here, you’ve got stars in your eyes. A ship in your movement.


Copyright © 2018 by Tyree Daye. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 23, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Most recently I’ve been interested in traveling while black, its history and all the challenges that it entails. This poem, as many of my poems do, is seeking advice from my dead.”
—Tyree Daye


Tyree Daye

Tyree Daye is the author of Cardinal (Copper Canyon Press, 2020).

Date Published: 2018-02-23

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