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Dasia Moore

Atlantic / Black / American, Triangular


The wake does its work on all of us

           who wet our feet in the waters where we died. 

This one the wake makes a mourner,

           this one the mourner’s martyred child. 


And I who have caught the raft of nation,

           whom the waves washed onto empire’s shore— 


what to make of floating on a bone-built island 


           and what if the bones are also yours. 


I’m looking for a word to spit back at the coastline, 


           for a wrath that will carry us home. 


Drinking water wherever I find it in hopes

           of clouding my eyes, of leaving behind. 


Even now, the point escapes. The poem 

           drowns itself in the sea. The raft dissembles,

disassembles, reveals no lighthouse and no raft 

           after all. A little water takes on water,


never enough for this thirst.



Albufeira, Atlantic


Generations have worn out their soles with this longing. 

I climbed a hillside in Portugal, watched the shore for signs


of my grandmother returning. No destination final 

for an ocean-born body. No final feeling of thirst. No matter 


where I go, I write, there is always this ocean. I follow 

on all sides and still searching for the wave that will carry


itself whole. On that hilltop, bare shoulders and skirt to my calves. 

Bare feet cooling in a shallow, man-made pool. A map


in poet’s mind salting the kilometers, sea-stench

sticking itself to the years. I take a photo of myself 


with wet feet, grew into a woman with a craving for salt. 

Parched. Drowning. I drink what will dry me out.


Opened my mouth to my grandmother’s voice—

I fear my ears are not equipped to hear this song.



4:15 am


“Dark clouds may rise. Stormy winds may blow. But He’s sweet I know. He’s sweet I know.” 

- Mahalia Jackson & Mama’s lullaby


Time wakes me : calls me to attention : asks for an account of my worries : and what moves me

bent towards un-being : my mother’s way of seeing : the unknowable way a life shapes itself : no

mirrors : in the dark

To take this wet world and dream it habitable : with what little my hands can make : are words as

good as wood : for building a thing that floats

No one can see the future : only the surface of a wide water : at certain angles : shadows : sodden footprints left in blackening ink by those who have jumped in : history cannot tell itself : what survives is a mislabeled song : a mourning map : a mother’s nighttime wish : a cleansing rain and a little boat





It is never just theory. The Atlantic divided me in two. A spirit-me watched over me, let my

troubles linger in her water. Girlhood is a call. My cousins walked us to the park, the asphalt

sizzled, the sidewalk called to bodied parts of them I could not name. They didn’t answer. 


What does free taste like to a hot lil thing? An iciness, a paper cup, a dyed-red, dyed-blue. That

summer like many summers, I tried to learn to swim. The fear of floating cut my breath in half. I

always gave in to the water. 



As It Is Taken from You, I Renew You,

or a second sonnet 15


As you learned it by its 

trees. As you learned it before

your name. Picture with me

palmetto. Say blush pink

magnolia. Own Charleston

as if you still own your father’s

home. And dressed in the brave 

states of memory, say 

Live Oak, say Holy City, 

speak Mine to indigo

waters. Buy back what’s yours

blood-bought, shivering gold.

Hold on to the perfect but a moment. 

Land is a loss we already know.

Dasia Moore is a Black queer writer and educator pursuing her M.F.A. in poetry at New York University, where she is a Lillian Vernon fellow. Dasia’s poetry and journalism have appeared in publications including The Offing, The Boston Globe Magazine, Autofocus, and Stanchion. Born and raised in the Carolinas, Dasia currently writes from New York.

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