252: Frequently Asked Questions: #7

252: Frequently Asked Questions: #7

252: Frequently Asked Questions: #7

Frequently Asked Questions: #7
by Camille T. Dungy

Is it difficult to get away from it all once you’ve had a child?

I am swaying in the galley—working
to appease this infant who is not

fussing but will be fussing if I don’t move—
when a black steward enters the cramped space

at the back of the plane. He stands by the food carts
prepping his service. Then he is holding his throat

the way we hold our throats when we think we are going to die.
I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. He is crying. My God. What they did to us.

I am swaying lest my brown baby girl make a nuisance
of herself, and the steward is crying honest man tears.

Seeing you holding your daughter like that—for the first time,
I understand what they did to us. All those women sold away

from their babies, he whispers. I am at a loss now.
Perhaps I could fabricate an image to represent this

agony, but the steward has walked into the galley
of history. There is nothing figurative about us.

"Frequently Asked Questions: #7" by Camille T. Dungy, from TROPHIC CASCADE by Camille T. Dungy, copyright © 2017 Wesleyan University Press. Used by permission of Wesleyan University Press.