Camille Dungy
To enter our own empty house

She was seven when we stopped

using keys. One less thing to lose.

Now we punch a combination—

easy, but hopefully not so easy

a stranger could guess. This is where

I should stop. They are bound

to be angry—my beloveds.

I am giving away all our secrets

again. Such vulnerability

is the root of much fury….

I was small. One stone in our yard

hid a metal case with a lid

that slid like a matchbox top

to reveal our key. Lifting that

big brown rock, I’d think hard

of bashing someone’s head. Harm

always came dressed in the body

of a stranger. Sometimes, I wrestle

with my daughter—make her tiny

body work its way out from under

the weight I make of my own.

In this way I try to teach her

how it feels to break free.

Found In Volume 49, No. 05
Read Issue
  • camille dungy by ray black
Camille Dungy
About the Author

Camille Dungy's debut collection of personal essays is Guidebook to Relative Strangers (W.W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is also the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award. She was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2019.