Camille T. Dungy Bio


I learned regret at mother’s sink,
jarred tomatoes, river-mud brown,
a generation old, lumping
down the drain. Hating wasted space,
I had discarded what I could
not understand. I hadn’t known
a woman to fight drought or frost
for the promise of winter meals,
hadn’t known my great-grandmother,
or what it was to have them lose
the company of that woman
who, upon seeing her namesake,
child of her child, grown and gliding
into marriage, gifted the fruit
of her garden, a hard-won strike
against want. Opening the jar,
I knew nothing of the rotting
effect, the twisting grip of years
spent packing, of years spent moving
further each time from known comforts:
a grandmother’s garden, her rows
always neat, the harvest: bright wealth
mother hoarded. I understood
only the danger of a date
so old. Understanding clearly
what is fatal to the body,
I only understand too late
what can be fatal to the heart.