Tyree Daye

Dirt Cakes

My Grandmother’s body lives

under an ash tree

on an old church ground,

her spirit can be seen making

a maple tree’s shadow jealous.


The church’s bricks absorb

the choir’s songs, they flake Holy Ghost,

If Trouble Don’t Come Today.


I visit, fall on my knees,

ask her how she doing?

How long is her hair now?


Does she still like it braided

in front? Still like having

her scalp scratched?

What y’all doing

in heaven today?


She’d tell my mama

don’t let a bird get the hair that falls

out your head, they’ll use it to build a nest

and you’ll never leave Rolesville. Dirt


is the only thing I know that can’t die,

it makes sense

we would bury here, makes sense

mama don’t want me playing in it.





“Dirt Cakes” first appeared in American Poetry Review (APR).