A few minutes ago, I was minding my own business, reading some poetry blogs. I clicked on the link to How a Poem Happens, a great blog by Brian Brodeur, and started reading his entry on “Requiem” by Camille Dungy. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was in no way prepared for the beauty & power of her poem. It knocked the wind out of me. As soon as I finished reading it, I walked into the next room and started reading the poem out loud to some friends. I would have fainted if I didn’t share that poem with someone (anyone) right away.
And now I’m sharing it with you. Read it and then go to Brian’s blog to read about Dungy’s process.
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.