Poems / June 6, 2024

Controlled Burning/A Love Poem for the Hill

Tyree Daye

Because the valley was full of mirrors
holding themselves toward the light
we turned our bodies to the side
to face the controlled burning of that day

an abandoned slapboard house in our plain town

up in flames
& falling down
inside itself

The town was a bathtub full of oranges
four children threw their arms up
in the chicken feathered air

Before the house fell inward
we felt the premonition of its falling
and said our grandmamas’ names

the unkempt gardenia eating the windows bent back into roots
& lifted in the windthe light turned into a sleeve of blades

a rain fell that was not enough & only ignited the glare

we kept our heads downafraid we would change into luster
& would not return to our bodiesour devotion

A ghost because we have so manyshouted in the white firemen’s ears
then turnedrunning toward the center of townthe brilliance
not aware of us and our deadbecame twice itself  
so we could not tell the distance between density & beauty
a light we wanted to take our uncles’ hammers to

Our legs if they were our legswere trying to flee
to become unbound
the same soil under our mamas’ nails
was under oursso we wondered if we were unworthy
of the shiningthe boards’ splitting sounded like falling trees
the smell of a thousand burned-down forests making us
look at ourselves in the city water

mud all over what we thought was ours

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Tyree Daye

Tyree Daye was raised in Youngsville, North Carolina. He is the author of the poetry collections a little bump in the earth (2024), Cardinal (2020), and River Hymns (2017), winner of the APR/Honickman First Book Prize.

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