Reading by the author

Do you ever feel sad
           when you lose a word?

Do you ever try
           and call it back like

calling in the sea?

           Or a dream.

Do you remember waking up
           in your own bed

at the end of a family road trip,
           knowing someone carried

and tucked you in
           the night before?

That is youth,
           whirred asleep

in the car. Beyond,
           a new day.

Now, we write the poem
           for our future best friend

who is already leaving
           in the earlysun.

How long should I stay
           at the front door waving?

I can’t explain the shift of seasonal winds
           but I do know this:

The Arabic root


creates weather
           and one more letter


makes weather conditions.
           Two more accents—

a dash below and above—


brings us to the state of being
           intensely moved

by love
           or grief.

How closely we flirt
           with our extremes,

breathing between
           the multitude

of our meanings.
           And yet, the same origin.

And yet, saved alarms remind us
           of the lives

we used to wake for.
           Remember the space

once filled
           by a lover’s yawning—

forgive me, do you mask
           the people in your dreams?

After the longest day of the year,  
           the sun starts shedding

itself of minutes. And what did we do
           in the final suntune?

Did we crawl
           on our hands and knees

to pick up cereal
           off the kitchen floor?

Or did we touch?
           Did we meet

in the wind chimes?

Blow in through open windows—

every person

           within us.

Poet's Note

We are all currently living in a quiet aftermath that has no foreseeable deadline. This poem is set in that collective aftermath or as the speaker calls it, “the final suntune.” Now, stuck in that strange betweenness, we struggle to actualize our future and are compelled to look behind us at our past lives. The poem’s first lines were inspired by Jackie Kay’s Old Tongue and ground us in that act of “calling back”— of those lives we had, of those people we loved, of those spaces we shared, of those dreams we slowly lost upon waking. And yet, the calling back won’t change the moment in front of us. Although we write “the poem for our future best,” we know she is already “leaving in the early sun.” In the act of retrieval, we must consider the fragility of our human experiences. The Arabic root-based system inspired this poem’s close attention to etymology or the origin stories of our words and feelings. By tracing the Arabic root word for weather, I recognized how our variations are so easily available— that weather bears close connection to both love and grief, and that we can experience states of both emotions at once. This poem recognizes that we are always oscillating between our many selves, lives, and words. But now, more than ever, we find ourselves searching, wanting, attempting to call on those multitudes. And so, when the poem asks the central question: “what did you do in the final suntune?”, we are meant to look for those answers in ourselves. It’s up to us to negotiate what we have done and what we will do in this continuous aftermath. Because we all know there will be more grief. But still, we know, there are future days that will bring more love, more union, more touching, and more becoming.