Saturday, 12 June 2021

American Life in Poetry: Ode to the Common Clothes Moth

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Sometimes defining what we mean by love causes us to fumble around, until we find the right language, or, as in this case, the perfect lived image that captures it all.

Tyree Daye does this here in his poem, “Ode to the Common Clothes Moth”, which is truly an elegant ode to his love for De Lissa.

Ode to the Common Clothes Moth
By Tyree Daye

In these days of less and less sun your love points and I follow
like the blind moths you beg me not to kill
half-asleep and the sun lesser than a minute before
I’ll let you go into the night and you say and I follow your love
of winged things to the back door
watch you empty your hands into the sky

In the morning you will wake before me
and walk out into the yard
the sun acts like a father as if it never left
moths sing of you from wherever
moths go to sing


American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2016 by Tyree Daye, “Ode to The Common Clothes Moth” from Cardinal, (Copper Canyon Press 2016). Poem reprinted by permission of Permissions Company, LLC and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

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