Robert Perry Ivey, born in Forsyth, Georgia, grew up in Macon and is a visiting assistant professor at Gordon State College and was the Visiting McEver Chair of Poetry at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) from 2012-2013. Ivey earned an MA in English Literature from Georgia State University and an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in Creative Writing. He is the author of the chapbook Southbound, and recipient of Academy of American Poetry’s John B. Santoianni Award. His work has appeared in The Country Mouse, Louisiana Review, Live Oak Review, At-Large Magazine, G.S.U. Review (now New South), TYCA Southeast, and Lumina. Thomas Lux stated this about Robert Ivey: “Ivey is the best young poet of (not just from) the South since the great Frank Stanford…Ivey’s long rolling lines are rich in detail: the whole range of what is human, and uniquely musical.”
Letter to Tally Bryant Ivey
Before you were born, I loved you;
before you were born, I killed you
like a mama dog bites in half puppy heads of imperfect pups.
I bought you Lovey the Lamb blankets, “Daddy makes me smile” bibs,
and Easter dresses with azalea colors.
Both sides of the family painted your room spring green
with angel cream trim, and I made a white hanging basket
that held an African violet beside the window.
I tell myself that it was for medical reasons,
the Trisomy, the C.F., that I would not risk my wife’s life
for an imperfect baby, and all that is a truth.
But I confess to you now
that I could have never fully afforded you,
loved you the way a born-sick baby needs.
Some animal part of me
bared its teeth,
detested, despised, and pitied you
back to the nothing.
I took you somewhere good, to someone
who would end you humanely, decently, tenderly.
And I confess this as well;
they asked us if we wanted to have a service
for your too little body.
We said no,
let the doctors give you the mercy pyre
with all the rest of the throw aways,
and I am so sorry for that baby girl,
so sorry that you deserved what we couldn’t face.
I planned to burn your sonogram pictures,
and spread the ashes in a clean river, to speak your name,
Tally Bryant Ivey, for the last time, but I couldn’t even walk onto that bridge.
My first, but not my firstborn;
this is the last time
that I will ever say your name.