Camille T. Dungy


            Sing the mass–

            light upon me washing words

            now that I am gone.


The sky was a hot, blue sheet the summer breeze fanned

out and over the town.  I could have lived forever

under that sky.  Forgetting where I was,

I looked left, not right, crossed into a street

and stepped in front of the bus that ended me.


Will you believe me when I tell you it was beautiful—

my left leg turned to uselessness and my right shoe flung

some distance down the road?  Will you believe me

when I tell you I had never been so in love

with anyone as I was, then, with everyone I saw?


The way an age-worn man held his wife’s shaking arm,

supporting the weight that seemed to sing from the heart

she clutched.  Knowing her eyes embraced the pile

that was me, he guided her sacked body through the crowd.

And the way one woman began a fast the moment she looked


under the wheel.  I saw her swear off decadence.

I saw her start to pray.  You see, I was so beautiful

the woman sent to clean the street used words

like police tape to keep back a young boy

seconds before he rounded the grisly bumper.


The woman who cordoned the area feared my memory

would fly him through the world on pinions of passion

much as, later, the sight of my awful beauty pulled her down

to tears when she pooled my blood with water

and swiftly, swiftly washed my stains away.