No one can fly down to bury his aunt.
The sickness is already there. That’s what
took her. And, anyway, we are stuck
at home. The moon swelled then emptied
into its shadow. We learned this week
the black singer died. Days later,
the white one. A man in the neighborhood,
young father of four. Lifted over the sink,
our child stood on the ledge and cleaned
the kitchen windows. It is bright outside
most days. Grass is greening up the yard.
An uncle died. Another aunt was taken
to the hospital. The moon swells again.
This feels like the early days of parenthood.
We swap watch. Focus on raising the child.
We’ve seen times like this before, we say.
Also, these times are like nothing we have
ever seen. When I came downstairs today
for breakfast, he was playing Lovely Day,
a song we danced to at our wedding.
We danced there, in the kitchen, all of us
howling those high and happy days. Lovely
day, we sang. Lovely day. Oh! Lovely day.
Camille T. Dungy is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade, winner of the Colorado Book Award, and the essay collection Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood and History, finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She has edited three anthologies, including Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry. Her honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, NEA Fellowships in both poetry and prose, and an American Book Award. She lives in Colorado with her husband and daughter, where she is a University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University. www.camilledungy.com
“Ceremony” appears in the Summer & Fall 2020 issue of Poetry Northwest. It is the first in a new series, I Call It Joy.