Poem of the Week | February 15, 2021

This week’s Poem of the Week is “The Day Before Moving Day” by Dana Alsamsam!

Dana Alsamsam is a first generation Syrian-American from Chicago and is currently based in Boston where she works in arts development. A Lambda Literary fellow, she received her MFA in Poetry from Emerson College where she was the Editor-in-Chief of Redivider and Senior Editorial Assistant at Ploughshares. Her poems are published or forthcoming in The Georgia Review, The Massachusetts Review, North American Review, The Offing, Salamander, BOOTH, The Common, The Journal, and others.


The Day Before Moving Day

We are not speaking but there is still coffee
in the pot for me when I emerge from a cold bed.

I wonder if he does this out of habit
or some small admittance of warmth. I stand naked
in the kitchen as I do each morning

but feel for the first time exposed.

I pull a speckled egg from the carton,
place it in a glass of water. It floats as if something within
haunts it. I can’t remember what this means—

whether it’s doomed to good or badness. I throw out
the egg. I want to throw out everything I own,

start up again away from here, possessionless.

But then there’s the sorting of his, mine,
his, mine—the blue soup bowls, mine,
the ticket stubs and the friends in Chicago, his.

If this were a movie, I’d just leave—

There’d be no cat that I love to leave behind
no lease I can’t afford to break.

Still, tomorrow, I will leave the one I loved.
I will take my books off the shelf his mother bought.

Tomorrow, I will leave. But tonight,
I’ll crawl in next to him for the last time, understand

his breathing as another ghost in my home. Tonight,
I’ll sleep in this bed with a different body,

my chest cavity opening, the widest door.


Author’s Note

The poem “The Day Before Moving Day” is autobiographical and was created in less than perfect circumstances. Looking back now, a few years after the piece was written, my life was like a bad indie romance. To set the scene: I was working as a barista at a coffee shop while scraping by in grad school. My ex had just moved across the country with me to pursue my dreams. Our relationship was stagnant. I was outgrowing him; my dreams were outgrowing him; my ambition was outgrowing him. Then I met my soulmate at the coffee shop. We bonded over being Syrian-American, having similar value systems, and being deeply in a time of transition in our lives. I knew this was the person I was meant to be with and so I made the difficult decision to end the long-term relationship that was no longer serving me to be with my soulmate (who I will marry next year!!!!).

Emotionally, I knew I was making the right decision. But logically? Everything was a disaster. Our lives were so intertwined, and it was painful and so expensive to untangle every strand of that togetherness. Most painfully, there were still a few months left on our lease together before I could move out… I stayed out of the apartment as much as possible to give him space, getting very little sleep and scarcely taking care of myself. When I did arrive home, I would still crawl into the same bed as him. It’s not like it would be any different after doing just that for so many years. So this poem is about mourning—not the breakage of a relationship, but the unwinding of years of togetherness, the physical separation of taking the self out of a shared space.

In my poetry, I typically like even lines and even stanzas. At this time, I was attempting to let all of that convention go and allow the poetry to speak as it wanted to. This piece is “messier” than most of my work, but I think the mess is its perfect form—breathy and tired and strung out.