Poem by Stephen Dunn

After the teacher asked if anyone had

            a sacred place

and the students fidgeted and shrank


in their chairs, the most serious of them all

            said it was his car,

being in it alone, his tape deck playing


things he’d chosen, and others knew the truth

            had been spoken

and began speaking about their rooms,


their hiding places, but the car kept coming up,

            the car in motion,

music filling it, and sometimes one other person


who understood the bright altar of the dashboard

            and how far away

a car could take him from the need


to speak, or to answer, the key

            in having a key

and putting it in, and going. 

Photo: Paul Gorbould

“The Sacred” by Stephen Dunn is included in Good Poems, American Places Selected and Introduced by Garrison Keillor. Find the book at