poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, May 6, 2016.
About this Poem 

Melissa is the name of the young woman I once was and while it’s true that she never left me, I often wonder if I left her. This poem is one way of saying thank you, Melissa, for being a body my death could die into.”
—TC Tolbert

Dear Melissa: [a curve billed thrasher]

a curve billed thrasher
is cleaning its beak on the ground—
we are closer now than ever—sitting
in shadow—I never want to scare
anyone—not really—I have a friend
who loves people who come out
suddenly—in the dark—
                                    pleasure
is the same distance as pain from here—
that’s my skin on your sweater—both hands
stripped now—I know I am someone
to you I am entirely—practicing
Spanish on the computer—gesturing to
the neighbor instead of speaking—
                                    to sharpen
the body is never an accident—someone
I know I am not—letters are inseparable
from loss—moving what can be still
moved—one is sweeping the mouth—
what ever isn’t skin—take it off—

Copyright © 2016 by TC Tolbert. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 6, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by TC Tolbert. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 6, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

TC Tolbert

TC Tolbert

TC Tolbert is the author of Gephyromania (Ahsahta Press, 2014).

by this poet

poem
I wish you (my mother once told me—mother of my child-
hood—even though water is water-weary—what is prayer if not quiet
who has made me—what hands you become when you touch—
who laid down on whose body—whose face and whose shoulders

worth shaking—what will I not hear when