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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, November 20, 2017
About this Poem 
“Often, I am thinking of how I can ground love—feeling it, being in it—and being present in my body and in joy, in my work. These moves feel so urgent to me as a black lesbian in this political and cultural moment, where the news each day seems to argue against my and my loved ones’ humanity.”
—Donika Kelly
 

The moon rose over the bay. I had a lot of feelings.

I am taken with the hot animal
of my skin, grateful to swing my limbs
 
and have them move as I intend, though
my knee, though my shoulder, though something
is torn or tearing. Today, a dozen squid, dead
 
on the harbor beach: one mostly buried,
one with skin empty as a shell and hollow
 
feeling, and, though the tentacles look soft,
I do not touch them. I imagine they
were startled to find themselves in the sun.
 
I imagine the tide simply went out
without them. I imagine they cannot
 
feel the black flies charting the raised hills
of their eyes. I write my name in the sand:
Donika Kelly. I watch eighteen seagulls
 
skim the sandbar and lift low in the sky.
I pick up a pebble that looks like a green egg.
 
To the ditch lily I say I am in love.
To the Jeep parked haphazardly on the narrow
street I am in love. To the roses, white
 
petals rimmed brown, to the yellow lined
pavement, to the house trimmed in gold I am
 
in love. I shout with the rough calculus
of walking. Just let me find my way back,
let me move like a tide come in.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Donika Kelly. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 20, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Donika Kelly. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 20, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Donika Kelly

Donika Kelly

Donika Kelly is the author of the chapbook Aviarium (fivehundred places, 2017), and the full-length collection Bestiary (Graywolf Press, 2016), winner of the 2018 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the 2017 Hurston/Wright Award for poetry, and the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize.

by this poet

poem
The war was all over my hands.
I held the war and I watched them
die in high-definition. I could watch
 
anyone die, but I looked away. Still,
I wore the war on my back. I put it
on every morning. I walked the dogs
 
and they too wore the war. The sky
overhead was clear or it was cloudy
or it rained or it snowed
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