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& the beloveds emerged one by one

August 21, 2019

Poet and educator Tyree Daye reflects on a photograph by Southbound artist Matt Eich. As part of our Call & Response series in conjunction with Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South, we’ve asked artists, writers, and poets to respond to a photograph of their choice in the form of short written pieces.

By Tyree Daye

Matt Eich, Fire Hose Baptism, 2013

Matt Eich, Fire Hose Baptism, 2013. Matt Eich is a photographic essayist and portrait photographer born and based in Virginia. Much of his work documents the shifting landscape and culture of the New South. Eich's prints may be found in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the New York Public Library, among others. ON VIEW AT THE GREGG MUSEUM OF ART & DESIGN AT NC STATE.

& the beloveds emerged one by one

we stand in the light


                        praise openly
for days we rattle with an old song


until an uncle comes back to the blue earth and the valley
in our stomachs fill


each child has had enough and sleeps with arms
so wide they can touch both worlds


and bring back an aunty in the morning
and three cousins still talking about bad men


the blue earth is singing
and our singing is turning blue


in the morning the dead turn the color of ocean
grandmothers long buried return as one bird


to feed us like we were babies again
and when the water touches our head let it be


always now and happening the future
is black and flying the prayer will go


thank you blue earth
where one body begins another


you are enough
we shake from your touch


look at the garden of my seeking
the soil i’ll lie down in it


“& the beloveds emerged one by one” is a line borrowed from Aracelis Girmay

Tyree Daye by Beowulf SheehanTyree Daye is a poet from Youngsville, North Carolina. He is the author of two poetry collections River Hymns 2017 APR/Honickman First Book Prize winner and Cardinal forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press 2020. Daye is a 2017 Ruth Lilly Finalist and Cave Canem fellow. Daye’s work has been published in Prairie Schooner, New York Times, Nashville Review. Daye won the 2019 Palm Beach Poetry Festival Langston Hughes Fellowship, 2019 Diana and Simon Raab Writer-In-Residence at UC Santa Barbara and is a 2019 Kate Tufts Finalist. Daye most recently was awarded a 2019 Whiting Writers Award.

Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South is presented by the Power Plant Gallery in collaboration with Duke’s Forum for Scholars and Publics and the Gregg Museum of Art & Design at North Carolina State University. In this iteration, guest curator Randall Kenan, author and NC native, organizes the many framed photographs of the exhibition around the twin themes of Flux, on display at the Power Plant Gallery, and Home, on display at the Gregg Museum. The full program of events includes slow tours, film screenings, “Sit + Chat” sessions, and FSP@PPG panel discussions that engage with the issues in and around the works of art and explore the topics, places, and styles of Southbound. Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South was organized by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston School of the Arts in Charleston, South Carolina, and curated by Mark Long and Mark Sloan. Visit the exhibit online at