Nancy Daley
 Photograph by Floyd Crawford 

The gorgeous play of language and metaphor in Nancy Daley’s first book provides a lush setting for its offering of poems in which love is found and lost and mourned and found again. How Much of Love rings all the changes that can resonate in the heart and mind of a woman finely tuned to every nuance of love’s delights and torments, a woman whose senses are acutely open to the sensual wonders of the world within and without. This is an oceanic work in every sense of the word, not least of all because of its exquisite interlude entitled “Pacific.” About this stunning collection, Mary Lucek has commented, “These poems evoke the ageless geology of love and change—their seismic shocks and gradual erosions. Daley speaks to the truth of the heart’s landscapes. Stasis, change, destruction and regeneration are woven throughout these lyrical distillations of experience and observation.” And this from David Wevill: "These poems are really excellent, both in their form and in their saying. I like their variety, as well as their strong, passionate concern. They are mature and fresh, recording faithfully the things of this world and enhancing them imaginatively."

 Cover painting: “Rooms by the Sea,” Edward Hopper, courtesy of the Yale University Art Gallery

Nancy Daley was born in Connecticut and currently resides in Austin, Texas with her husband, Floyd Crawford, and their Border Collie Travis. She received a B.A. in English from Wesleyan University and was awarded the Academy of American Poets College Prize as well as a Phi Beta Kappa key. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, where she currently teaches Human Sexuality. Outside the classroom, she is a psychologist in private practice and a recovering inline skater.

 

 

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BOOK STATISTICS

ISBN 978-0-9823970-2-2
Copyright © 2009 by Nancy Daley

Length: 114 pages, 6" x 9" paperback

$19.00 USD per book plus 6% sales tax (CT only)

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OFF MIDDLE BEACH

Off Middle Beach, Long Island Sound
is dark grey and cold as a Puritan.
Go away, it tells us. And yet

we walk here, daring the gun-
colored waves to touch us, picking
whatever small shells and pale

sea glass we wish from the sand,
cold and frail, that falls apart
beneath our feet as we walk.

Off Middle Beach the wind
trims the rough rocks of Salt Island,
pressing the long sea grasses down,

sending the waves that come and come
up in a rush of frozen foam,
rolling the shore’s cold stones smooth.

Off Middle Beach the maddening air
over Salt Island pulses with gulls,
who toss their crabs and mussels down

while here on shore we measure
our own incurable hunger. More, more,
our mouths tell one another.

ARRIVAL

In sleep
I remember your hands. The dog,
asleep on the rug, remembers
running, or some small animal,
and whines.
Against me
you dream of battle. Your hands
are like smooth stones
gathered for a fortress
at my back.
At dawn
points of white light burn down
as a red sky gathers itself
like a woman dressing quickly
to rush home.
I rise
with dreams damp on my skin. The dog
bursts through the open door
and runs toward a rush of gulls
as they leave
the lake
for parts unknown. This, then,
is morning: this flight. I stay,
and come with coffee and
cold feet
to curl
against you, my chin on your arm.
You do not wake. Through a blue
window, I watch black branches tremble.
I stay.

FIRST DREAM

In the dream
she is packing. The bed
is a furl of color: bright silks,
dark wool, sleeves
and pockets.
He stands
close by, hovering somehow
now above, now behind her.
She thinks: I want him
to speak.
He thinks:
she will not hear. She wants
to stop. And cannot stop.
Shirts in a bag, shoes and
tickets, the whispered
gossip
of tissue. (She stirs in her
sleep now, turns. The window
is black, lined in silver.)
She returns
to the dream.
Still she is packing. The man
is still silent, wringing
his hands. In her dreams
they will go on
this way:
a woman in flight, a silent man,
their bed heaped high with
shadows in a flung hill of
indecipherable shapes and colors.

WRITTEN UNDER THE INFLUENCE

Ismaël Lo, “Jammu Africa”

1.

Each morning I look for you in the doorway,
recalling you there, arms crossed,
the world possessed in the tilt of your hips.

And how your eyes, the color of new leaves,
sought me out, smiling. It was spring.

You came along like a song I’d never heard before,
African drum-storms, the voice of fire.
Unimagined rearrangement of familiar notes.

My body remembers the music you made,
mouth and breasts, and the sea, poured out.

2.


The sun speaks one language.
It is the language of possession.

Summer burns away the landscape.
Shadows dissolve.

Lover, my pulse keeps count of you.
Music and fire become one thing.

Your absence is meaningless,
your heat endures.

Clouds in the scorched sky
promise nothing. This does not matter.

In this world music comes and goes.
Mostly unheard, always invisible.

It only matters that I heard you.
You sang. I let myself dance.


OCTOBER

Without you the seasons
still turn. The moon
comes and goes in its
own way; dead leaves
and hard ripe fruit
fall, magnificent;

without you the blue-eyed men
take their turns in my bed,
generous of hand and tongue,
stiff, splendid with sweat,
proud of their
achievements;

without you the same
still rooms repeat
their old stories,
reminding me silently,
arranging their sentences
of beds and chairs;

much stays the same
without you. And yet
on a night like this
when a moon like this fills
every window, illuminating
bare limbs and lying, silver,
on my pillow, sleep becomes
a dreaded thing:

As if in dreams I still
must find you. As if,
once impolite and free,
you still must be
the only place
I’d go to.

LEAVING SAN PEDRO

1.

Pulling away
from your house I feel
the suck of my chest that signals

Leaving
and blossoming emptiness:
tears spring up.

I am afraid
I will cry, and you
will notice and cry too.

And so
I watch the sidewalk carefully,
the houses as they rush by,

red flowers
in heaps and veils along
the fences and white stucco.

The birds
of paradise point: here, no,
here.

I do not wish to say any more
about it. The flowers, the cliffs,
the sea: they are not mine.
I leave them all behind.

 

2.

That afternoon driving home
from Malaga Cove, how we saw
Catalina hover above the mist.
And then the clearing sea. We saw this.

We saw the late sun, platinum.
And blood-red bougainvillea
spilled in foolish profusion.
We knew that this was beauty.

What kind of word is that to use? Beauty!
It tells nothing. Say instead
that we drove along in silence,
hardly breathing, taking in our fill
of scorched hills, foolish blossoms,
a fierce drop down to a
silver-colored sea. Undulation.

Say there was light everywhere,
and salt-flavored air,
and that twenty miles away from us
an island showed itself: all curves
and ridges: looking like old rock,
just as it should. But lifted somehow:
out of the silver water,
into the whiteness of the air.

REHABILITATION

Late Sunday afternoon, tired of rest,
weary, waiting for that old injury to clear,
coffee cups and newspapers strewn across table,
chair and floor, the acrostic impossible,

I give it all up for a problem I can fix
with a ladder and one brave, indifferent
hand: atilt, in search of solid foothold,
I reach unseeing into the clotted gutter

to pull wet fistfuls of dead leaves
and the dark good muck dead leaves make
when, left long enough to rain and heat and
more leaves, they are broken

cell by cell down from the lives they once
led (feeding trees, making welcome shade,
whispering what leaves whisper in the
wind) to the life they’ll have next spring,

too rich in death to be let go.
I bucket their remains and totter down
slick rungs to carry them
across the limbo of the dormant lawn

to the mound of shells and peels and
coffee grounds, the apple cores,
the tangerines we didn’t eat, leaving them
to spend the winter simmering,

waiting for spring to come
with its five-gallon pots, its new leaves to feed.



NO COW. EVERY DAY NO COW.

I go to the front door wearing my expectancy
like a shirt I’ve owned for years: this is the day,
I think. Every time I go to the door I think
this is the day the sweet-faced Hereford,
the Jersey, the Belted Galloway will at last appear
in my front yard, between the dark red salvia
and the Copper Canyon Daisy, chewing,
wise, looking up at me, glad to be here.
Or even out the back door, why not? Up the one
broad step to the cedar deck, or out
by the rock-rimmed raised beds where
feathered nandina set berries out to shine
red-lantern-like all winter. Every day I go out
with the watering can, expecting,
knowing this will be the day.

I try not to take it personally.
I try not to think about how,
not far from here, in hill country pastures and up
beside long ranch houses cows stand
chewing, or lie in steamy bunches
waiting for rain, or celebrate breaches
in the barbed wire fence that runs for miles
without one place for a cow to get through;
and then one split, one break, one space
and a cow breaks out, breaks through.
For sure she’d find her way to me.
For sure today will be the day.



BREAKFAST HONEY

You start from the outside and work your way
in, the thin strand slow to pour
but quick to take hold of morning. It shines.

Meticulous in this as in
all things, you work in perfect
concentric rings: molten, gold
meets gold and melts into itself, a sweet
lucid presence awaiting your mouth. You smile.

For years we breakfasted alone,
the deep woods of your childhood
a thousand miles from my own.
Can you be thinking now, as I am,
of your father and the bees he kept?

These are the circles I see you pour:
you feed me as he fed you.
Your father knew, as you do, when
to rob the hive: when to move in
with sure, strong hands
and pull the fullness of a long season up
to make of such solitary work
this gold, sun-filled, much-endearing thing.



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