April Poet #3: Meg Day
Image Description: Black-and-white portrait of Meg Day with a black blouse and short hair combed back, looking off to the left (of the screen) with small smile.
Meg Day is a Deaf, genderqueer poet from Pennsylvania. Day is a an assistant professor of creative writing, author of several poetry collections, and has received numerous fellowships and awards.
Day’s debut, Last Psalm at Sea Level, winner of the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize and The Publishing Triangle's 2015 Audre Lorde Award, and a Finalist in the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry, explores the junction of intersecting identities in indeterminate spaces. According to Day's website, Day's poems appear in Best American Poetry 2020, The New York Times, POETRY Magazine, Prairie Schooner,AGNI, Beloit Poetry Journal, Drunken Boat, and Vinyl, among other journals, and in recent anthologies, including Best New Poets, Wingbeats II: Exercises & Practice in Poetry, We Will Be Shelter: Poems for Survival edited by Andrea Gibson, and Troubling the Line: Trans & Genderqueer Poetry & Poetics.
Day's poem "The Permanent Way" is reprinted below. According to the Academy of American Poets, Day describes the inspiration for the poem as follows: “Much of my youth was spent on family road trips to National Parks—I can map with ease the different phases of my childhood and adolescence based on the geography of the parks system in the United States. In many ways, the NPS was how I learned about this country and the people who lived in it; ‘The Permanent Way’ attempts to correct some of the omissions in that early education, of which there were many.”
Aside from writing, Day is an editor, fellow, and assistant professor.
Steamtown National Historic Site was created in 1986 to preserve the history of steam railroading in America, concentrating on the era 1850 through 1950.
We weren’t supposed to, so we did what any band of boys would do & we did it the way they did in books none of us would admit we stole from our brothers & kept hidden
under bedskirts in each of our rooms: dropped our bicycles without flipping their kickstands & scaled the fence in silence. At the top, somebody’s overalls snagged, then my Levi’s, & for a few deep
breaths, we all sat still—grouse in a line— considering the dark yard before us, how it gestured toward our defiance— of gravity, of curfews, of what we knew of goodness & how we hoped we could be
shaped otherwise—& dared us to jump. And then we were among them, stalking their muscled silhouettes as our own herd, becoming ourselves a train of unseen movements made singular,
never strangers to the permanent way of traveling through the dark of another’s shadow, indiscernible to the dirt. Our drove of braids & late summer lice buzz cuts pivoted in unison
when an engine sighed, throwing the moon into the whites of our eyes & carrying it, still steaming, across the yard to a boilerman, her hair tied up in a blue bandana. Somewhere, our mothers were sleeping
prayers for daughters who did not want women to go to the moon, who did not ask for train sets or mitts. But here—with the moon at our feet, & the whistle smearing the cicadas’ electric scream, & the headlamp
made of Schwinn chrome, or a cat’s eye marble, or, depending on who you asked, the clean round scar of a cigarette burn on the inside of a wrist so small even my fingers could fasten around
it—was a woman refilling the tender in each of us. We watched her the way we’d been told to watch our brothers, our fathers: in quiet reverence, hungry all the while.
First appears in Poem-a-Day on September 29, 2016 and on the poets.org website.