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POETRY / Tennessee Morning, Tennessee Night / Carla Sofia Ferreira / Writer of the Month

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— with a title adapted from Ariel Francisco; dedicated to Erin Elizabeth Smith

It is not yet dawn, hora da madrugada, and I
am barely waking. All night I have been dreaming of what
Girmay calls “the kingdom of touching; the touches of

the disappearing, things.” Already, the morning is disappearing,
rearranging itself into the clothes it wears as day. As I walk
barefoot into Tennessee, my soft soles on wet grass and rocky

earth, my ears fill with the sounds of bleating sheep and a hungry goat.
No one knows where the rooster came from, but he struts, dignified
like a king who knows his kingdom, nearly takes it for granted.

By the door, Simon and River appear as they want to, as they choose,
and they let me hold them against the soft of my body. River tolerates this,
and I know he must be the older, wiser brother while Simon just purrs, purrs, 

like this moment is enough for us to keep for a long while, like there is no
leaving for us to be afraid of: oh, this is the kingdom of touching, of what can
and cannot stay. My first full day, I do not write any poems in the way I normally

do, with my fingers upon the keys of my laptop. Instead, I find two dozen eggs
hidden in the corner of the chicken coop, eggs that had been buried away meticulously
by hens with as much hay as they could manage. And who am I to say that is not a poem,

if all poems are, after all, a way of stopping to pay attention to what otherwise goes
unnoticed? Who’s to say that Jane and Heather and I standing in the small cabin above
the farm, with chilled rosé in our glasses, talking about love and what could be love and

what was once love, who’s to say we weren’t all in those moments writing our very best
poems? I am not asking these questions looking for answers, as Tennessee night comes
to call me back, to remind me of my unfinished work. I have spent so much of the day

napping, or as Mary Oliver would say, “letting the soft animal of my body love
what it loves.” I fall into these days like rhyme, like a pattern I don’t want to break
and I know even as I write, these days are leaving me. But oh yes, they are leaving me

the soft of Simon’s belly, the rooster-king’s cocksure walk, these waking nights,
and yes even this, even this Tennessee morning.


Carla Sofia Ferreira is a Portuguese-American poet from Newark, New Jersey. Author of the microchap, Ironbound Fados (Ghost City Press 2019), her poems and book reviews live in such lit communities as Cotton Xenomorph; underblong; The Rumpus; and Glass. A recipient of fellowships from DreamYard Rad(ical) Poetry Consortium and Sundress Academy for the Arts, she is a co-editor for a forthcoming anthology of immigrant and first-generation American poetry whose proceeds will benefit RAICES. As a high school English teacher, she believes in kindness, semicolons, and that ICE needs to be permanently abolished.