Town of Unspeakable Things

By Allison Seay b. 1980 Allison Seay
Then there was the time I looked directly into the face
of the life I thought I was missing,

of love. I used to think to be not alone meant
never having to walk through the high wheat

or struggle in the water. Not having to decide not
to fling from some height.

Once, the two of us rode one bicycle.
I wore a straw hat and perched on the handlebars

and beside us the sea oats swayed like skirts
and I heard a trilling in the crabgrass.

The sidewalks were bleached as Grecian stone
as we rode past the fish shop smelling of morning—
salt, bread, limes, men.

Riding in front, it was such that
I could not be heard always, at least not the first time

for you pedaled into the wind
and my hair was a ribbon in your eyes.

I said I thought bougainvillea was a stoic plant
and then had to say twice, no, stoic! and then
no, the bougainvillea! and then you said easily

it was nothing like that at all.

But our future was clear enough when I asked if you saw
the clean aprons of those men

(how much longer you think until they clean the fish?
did you see how white those aprons were? did you see?)
To which you said
How much is it, then, you think you need?

Source: Poetry (November 2011).


This poem originally appeared in the November 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

November 2011
 Allison  Seay


Allison Seay was born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1980. She earned a BA in English at Mary Washington College (now University of Mary Washington) in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 2002 and an MFA in poetry from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2005. Her honors include publication in such journals as Crazyhorse, the Southern Review, Meridian, Arts and Academe, and Pleiades. Her first book manuscript is under . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poems by Allison Seay

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Romantic Love

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.