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Tina Raye Dayton

About the Poet

Tina Raye Dayton, winner of the 2012 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize, is the author of the chapbook, The Softened Ground.

Her poems have appeared in The Delmarva Review, Potomac Review, The Broadkill Review, and a number of other journals.

She grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and completed her MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.

She works part-time as a reading therapist for children and spends the rest of her time writing and caring for her beloved daughter.


Spring 2014 »
Waiting for Snow

Though the light goes out early,
and trees are leafless,
the man next door cruises by on his riding mower
beneath the sky, blue as our baby’s eyes.
We take long walks, our jackets hanging open,
flapping like wings.
Christmas is already a memory book,
a story I’ve longed to tell.
The year is new,
and we’ve made promises to ourselves.
Every day we try to remember fresh habits.
One night over butternut bisque,
Accuweather offers that the jet stream has shifted,
lifting the hem of her dress
so that now we sit at about her knees,
and people are casual in their t-shirts in January.
But I want fire,
steam rising up over cocoa
topped in clouds of marshmallows,
and scarves draping their tails
around the tender skin of my neck.
Instead, the snowman stays in the picture book,
and as we pack our holiday decorations,
I sing Blackbird and wonder how to mark time
without a white blanket draped over everything.




She licks the petal edge of her lips
and kicks with easy joy
in the peach morning light,
exclaiming her ahs,
holding tightly to everything
that falls into her hands.
I make lists over morning coffee,
all of the musts
swirling in a thick steam of worry
and tender thoughts dulled
by the hour of day.
In our sleep, we dream about each other,
faces we’ve memorized intently,
so that I carry her
into every dark place―my sweet blue song,
mink-soft hair against my cheek.
I lift her weight to my chest,
wrap my arms around all of her,
and whisper, you are everything.
Together, we are the perfect sum,
like sun and sky,
each holding the other up.



The Wish Poem

We are on the couch,
the wall behind us gray as clouds
that feather the evening sky.
She is upstairs asleep
on our bed, cooperating.
Maybe she too dreams of a baby.
The print near my knees is Starry Night,
flecked swirls aglow in bursts of gold,
the dark earth below.
The other over my head―
I couldn’t tell you what it’s called.
But there are more stars,
more stillness, maybe less joy.
The couple in the foreground
walk toward us dangerously close
to stepping out of the picture altogether.
They are what this night is about.
They are together,
stars lined up over their heads
in a constellation of hope.
And Van Gogh, he died broke,
without realizing how much
we would love a man we wouldn’t know.
I resolve to finish this
and find the name of the painting
as soon as we’re done, and the cool air
settles over us like a whisper.


Tina Raye Dayton ~

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