Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January 2, 2019.
About this Poem 

“‘Plan Upon Arrival’ is a book-length poem set in the landscape of my family's farm of over eighty years in the Florida panhandle. I'm interested in the intimate accounting of rural black life as a means to register and transcribe the region's physical transformations conditioned by indigenous dispossession, chattel slavery, anti-black resource management, the placement of a federal prison, and increasingly aggressive coastal storms.”
—Saretta Morgan

from "Plan Upon Arrival"

7. Letters arrived in intervals, as with everything else one might come, one might not regardless of whether there’d been a response. We prepared at all times. Bent over. We dreamed things would be different. Every time the door opened we each smiled in a way to make clear we’d never seen our own face. 

8. An appendix washed up, pages current-smoothed, leaning funny. We stood and watched the skin stretched and sewn. The so-called imaginary, so-called interior, so-called paradoxical private sphere. 

13. Dailiness was the anxiety through which we waited. Buttons undone, like clearance. Not what we wanted but what we didn’t know we had to have. Private acts to attempt in public. Productive relationships to sites of violence. Lace-fronts. A dollar to run to the store. 

19. However useful, the language was degrading, incompatible and lacked necessary verbs. The ability to compress, overflow and alter the landscape through a low swollen hum. To smell strongly in the morning, at the grocery or over the phone. 

24. There were moments we were incapable of decision. An opening through which to register an image pungent through its own material law. A body pulled inward, door unlocked. Irresponsible to. That this moment would return. Return us. That this, and only this, would be the day. 

Copyright © 2019 by Saretta Morgan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 2, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2019 by Saretta Morgan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 2, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Saretta Morgan

Saretta Morgan

Saretta Morgan is the author of Plan Upon Arrival, forthcoming from Selva Oscura/Three Count Pour in 2020, and Feeling Upon Arrival (Ugly Duckling Press, 2018), among other books.