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)
More Poems by Camille T. Dungy