HomeSouthern VoiceI jump from the cross-beams, and seize the clover and timothy

I jump from the cross-beams, and seize the clover and timothy

by Skye Shirley

Whitman wrote that the barn doors were open in the high hay
and his body was electric and his soul mad with the excitement of death

and I should confess I wake up each morning without—
and hit the alarm without listening, and sleep another dream’s worth

and after I braid my hair without looking at my fingers work,
my key fits into the lock but I won’t remember the gesture.

I took the bus to work in slippers once— so mindless
was the numb loss of myself that shook me, rattled me like a door

and if I could breathe the joyful water that old carolers sing as music,
all homes would seem open to me as dollhouses,

I would glimpse the wooden canopies of warmth,
pipes running under the floorboards and through masonry.

In front of the fireplace, there are embers breaking apart like hot suns
which from our blue planet would look like dying stars

but the back of the fireplace is never seen
(how the newspaper curls black under the charred kindling)

no one has yet touched the inside of the chimney or its coats of ash
and if I were not afraid, you would see me peeling bark off the logs

burning, as they would keep burning, even with my hands aflame—

Skye Shirley was born in Houston, Texas, and grew up on the Rice University campus until she was 10 years old. Her father’s family is from Virginia and Kentucky, and her mother’s family hails from the Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee. She graduated from Boston College in 2010 with a major in English and Creative Writing and received the Dever Creative Writing Fellowship after the completion of her poetry thesis, “The Good Women.” Her chapbook, Opening the Storm Door, received the McCarthy Creative Writing Award in 2009, and her poem “The Paper Called Them Black-Fish” received the Gary Fincke Prize for Poetry. Her poetry has been published in Sow’s Ear, Susquehanna Review, Best Undergraduate Writing of 2009, Pure Francis and Post Road.

Literary Friday, Edi
A Southern Funeral
  • Michelle / April 26, 2014

    This poem makes me want to read every single thing Skye Shirley has ever written.

  • Oliver / September 16, 2014

    I met you!