Literary Arts | READ LOCAL First

Four poems by poet Meg Day

Welcome to this month’s edition of READ LOCAL First: Utah’s most comprehensive collection of accomplished poets and authors.  This month we introduce you to deaf, genderqueer poet Meg Day. Day is the author of Last Psalm at Sea Level (Barrow Street, 2014), winner of the Publishing Triangle’s Audre Lorde Award, and a finalist for the 2016 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. She is co-editor of Laura Hershey: On the Life & Work of an American Master (Pleiades, 2019).

The 2015-2016 recipient of the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship and a 2013 recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, Day’s work is forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2020 (available September 8). She lived in Salt Lake City and taught at the University of Utah as a graduate student from 2011-2015.

Today we bring you four previously published poems: Big Sky Domestic (The South Carolina Review), Aubade to Day (The Paris-American), Tell the Bees I’m Home (The Indiana Review), and Deaf Erasure of the Gospel According to the TSA Agent at Atlanta International (The New York Times). 

Nowadays, Day is Assistant Professor of English & Creative Writing at Franklin & Marshall College.


Big Sky Domestic

The neighbors are watching teevee again

& the pale blue of Montana morning

licks the long wall of the bedroom

silently, each block of gauzy cerulean

a panel in a widescreen comic that will last

until dawn bleaches it bare. Even

as I linger on the lip of sleep in this porch

rocker, in this quilted haven—the headboard

pardoned of splinters, the clouds growing

squally above the bureau—something new

& tender has stitched itself satisfied

inside of you. Your belly swells in time

with the pendulum of the longcase

my father made himself & my mother

must have known this eery glow

of stucco sky when she sewed

the pinwheels that tilt when we exhale

in unison. I have not known worry

since the last time Montana ether appeared

in panorama through the window

& I woke remembering our children

might someday soon grow beyond themselves

& into men: her body into his, or her body

into his arms, a concordance that more

than once has been mistaken for else:

a mountain silhouetted in the distance

or merely the wallpapered shadow

of a secret self who has yet to find

their way from the mercy of the womb.


(This poem was originally published in The South Carolina Review.)



Aubade to Day

Last night I dreamt I’d forgotten my name

or driven it off like a fox through the split-rail


& into the long grass that can’t help but divulge

the direction of the wind. More than once,


I’ve been without—& more than once I’ve run

my padded bones along the braided bottom teeth


of summer, confusing heat with light & feeling

for the peak that christens predators with sharper


tongues than prey. There are some shades of night

so tender they swallow sound without chewing.


Pretend this is the first time you’ve seen me

crouch & tuck my hands under the resting scaffold


of a body limp with sleep, or worse. Pretend

your teeth don’t pull flesh from the peach’s pit


the way maggots eat around the tendons that hold

the heart inside the chest of the fawn felled by a fox


in the soundless down of that black yard. Where

is the sun! Look at the long grass open like a wound


where this small life left an even gentler night. Can

you see its blood across the door of my chest


like a promise? Can you hear me screaming my last

name into its neck as if it would turn the earth?


(This poem was originally published in The Paris-American.)



Tell the Bees I’m Home

The telling of the bees, a traditional English custom, requires the head of household to inform her colony of each family death by knocking on the hive or risk losing the bees & their honey.


Elsewhere, there’s a party

of familiars waiting to welcome my grandmother back

from the aperture of aspiration & she is the only one

at the nursing home who sees them; here

in the front yard—

where my grandmother sunbathes in a nylon chair still soaked

with baby oil & hums oldies with tin foil on her knees & tells me

to lay my small face against the stubble

of the crabgrass

so I will know how kissing a grown man can hurt—I have

similar vision. None of this exists: the bright sex of trash

we heaped sweet & ripe on curbs;

the Ponderosa still pitching

sap into my waist-length curls; the brown wool sectional moved

the width of the duplex to hide shoe polish in the carpet. We are

a narrowing pupil, a black hole,

some collapse deep in the hive

whose queen went missing long before anyone noticed

the milk in the oven or my grandmother’s eyes dowsing faces

for names. After they moved her,

we pulled the wallpaper

from the back room &, like her memory, under each layer

some stranger’s sensibilities hid intact. I, too, have been gone

so many years I have no truer reality

to offer; I am stung only

by the illusion my absence must have made me. It has been night

in the city of my grandmother’s brain for so long we are all

sundowning at every break of another day

worth remembering—

& who would not offer up their name to keep swallowing

unforgettable? Tell the bees I’ve come: to memorize the kitchen

edged with white geese in bonnets

& the face whose DNA

might someday make me forget my own. Tell the bees I’m home—

so they’re certain nothing has changed—& she is still gone, but

in my coming, gone further, gone fast.


(This poem was originally published in The Indiana Review.)



Deaf Erasure of the Gospel According to the TSA Agent at Atlanta International


This is the good news: [inaudible]

& we have a plan for you. Can you follow


what I’m saying? Follow me. Bless you,

[inaudible], there’s no need to [inaudible].


Doesn’t this happen to you all the time?

[Inaudible]. I said step in here. Why would you—


copy. Copy that, I’m here with—yes I’m here

with [inaudible] now. Like I was saying before,


I’m not here to preach [inaudible]. You are

what you are. Even Jesus wasn’t believed


& it’s not like he could put some marker

on his drivers license. Have you had the [inaudible]?


My cousin had the [inaudible]. But the other

way. Spread your [inaudible]. A little farther


down the line & I would’ve been Paul

or [inaudible] back from his lunch break.


That’s the power of [inaudible] right there.

Somebody’s looking out for you today. Next time


you might not—[inaudible]. Copy. Copy

that. I’m going to place my fingers here & then


they need the room. [Inaudible]. Okay that’s

enough. I need to go & tell them what I’ve seen.


(This poem was originally published in The New York Times.)



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