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Nicole Sealey



                          (for John)


We wake as if surprised the other is still there,

each petting the sheet to be sure.


How have we managed our way

to this bed—beholden to heat like dawn


indebted to light. Though we’re not so self-

important as to think everything


has led to this, everything has led to this.

There’s a name for the animal


love makes of us—named, I think,

like rain, for the sound it makes.


You are the animal after whom other animals

are named. Until there’s none left to laugh,


days will start with the same startle

and end with caterpillars gorged on milkweed.


O, how we entertain the angels

with our brief animation. O,


how I’ll miss you when we’re dead. 


Nicole Sealey was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and raised in Apopka, Florida. She received an MFA from New York University and an MLA in Africana studies from the University of South Florida.Sealey is the author of Ordinary Beast (Ecco Press, 2017), which was a finalist for the PEN Open Book and Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards. Her chapbook, The Animal After Whom Other Animals are Named (Northwestern University Press, 2016), was the winner of the 2016 Drinking Gourd Chapbook Prize. In 2019, Sealey was named a 2019-2020 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University.She has received fellowships and awards from Canto Mundo, the Cave Canem Foundation, the American Academy in Rome, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Elizabeth George Foundation, among others. She was the Executive Director at the Cave Canem Foundation from 2017-2019 and was the curator for a special series of Poem-a-Day from August 31?September 11, 2020. Sealey lives in Brooklyn,New York.

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