Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lucille Clifton

Poet Lucille Clifton died yesterday. She meant a lot to a lot of people, including me. Her poetry was full of depth of feeling, and raw, real words, and it engaged the raw, real world. It was accessible in the best sense of the word--it meant something, something you could wrap your head around. It's awful news that she's gone, and so young, only 73. Here is one of my favorites.

i am accused of tending to the past

i am accused of tending to the past
as if i made it,
as if i sculpted it
with my own hands. i did not.
this past was waiting for me
when i came,
a monstrous unnamed baby,
and i with my mother's itch
took it to breast
and named it
she is more human now,
learning languages everyday,
remembering faces, names and dates.
when she is strong enough to travel
on her own, beware, she will.