Published on Academy of American Poets (

Frequently Asked Questions: #9

Don’t you think you should have another child?

This girl I have is hardtack and dried lime
           and reminds me, every groggy morning,
what a miracle it must have been
           when outfitters learned to stock ship holds
with that one long lasting fruit. How the sailors’ tongues,
           landing on its bitter brilliance, must have cursed
the curse of joy, as I did that morning the burst
           of water brought my sweet girl into our lives.

But, already, she hates me sometimes.
           Like I have sometimes hated my mother and she
must have sometimes hated her own.

After weeks at sea, the limes would desiccate and the meal
           fill with worms. They would have eaten
anyway, the sailors, but taken no pleasure from anything.
           Or taken no pleasure from anything but
the fact of their sustained lives. Which is to say it is all
           I can do, most days, not to swallow
her up and curse her maker, I swear. Like I have not
           sworn since the morning she was born.


Copyright © 2015 by Camille T. Dungy. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 17, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem is part of a series in which I try to honestly address some of the complicated questions I’m confronted with as a mother. It’s also not the only poem in which I contemplate the complexities of the seafaring life. More proof that our oceans harbor all kinds of treasure, perhaps.”
Camille T. Dungy


Camille T. Dungy

Camille T. Dungy is the author of several books of poetry including, Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan University Press, 2017). Dungy was a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow and is a University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University.

Date Published: 2015-09-17

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