Tyree Daye’s a little bump in the earth is an act of invention and remembrance. Through sprawling poems, the town of Youngsville, North Carolina, where Daye’s family has lived for the last 200 years, is reclaimed as the “Ritual House.” Here, “every cousin aunt uncle ghost” is welcome. Daye invokes real and imagined people, the ancestral dead, land, snakes, and chickens, to create a black town on a hill. Including dreams, letters, revised rental agreements, and “a little museum in the herein-&-after,” where collaged images appear beside documents from Daye’s ancestors—census records, marriage licenses, and WWII Draft Registration cards—the collection asks if the past can be a portal to the future, the present a catalyst for the past. a little bump in the earth explores what it means to love someone, someplace, even as it changes, dies right in front of your eyes. Poem by poem, Daye is honoring the people of Youngsville and “bringing back the dead.”
Begin With Me
I got up
off the ground
near some graves—I share
the last name with.
with what I was handed,
a mama, a daddy I saw a few times,
because he hid
in the hues he knew.
My little brother full of love
like the corner store in heaven. I knew
his lying like I knew our daddy’s lying,
same song, but a higher key.
My mama taught me to
ask my dead plenty of questions—
to let the moon touch me on the mouth,
to ring my black bell.