By Camille T. Dungy
Christ bore what suffering he could and died   
a young man, but you waited years to learn   
how to heal.   Only when you could did you   
touch the man whose body blistered for yours.   

You posted him no news for sixteen terms,   
then just a signed graduation notice.   

The letter he wrote that week asked only,   
Now that your books are closed, can boys come in?   

At your wedding, you buried the woman   
you thought you knew inside a stranger’s name.   

This is how you found yourself: thirty-three,   
nursing a son. Soon there was another.   
Your mind had already begun to walk.   
But you were a mother.   Those cribs held you.

Camille Dungy, "Pity" from What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison Copyright 2006 by Camille Dungy. Reprinted by permission of Red Hen Press.

Source: What to Eat What to Drink What to Leave for Poison (Red Hen Press, 2006)

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Poet Camille T. Dungy


Subjects Living, Marriage & Companionship, Relationships, Coming of Age, Men & Women, Parenthood

 Camille T. Dungy


Poet and editor Camille T. Dungy was born in Denver but moved often as her father, an academic physician, taught at many different medical schools across the country. She earned a BA from Stanford University and an MFA from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.
Dungy’s full-length poetry publications include Smith Blue (2011), a finalist for the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America; Suck on . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Marriage & Companionship, Relationships, Coming of Age, Men & Women, Parenthood


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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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