February 17, 2010
Hump Day Poetry: Lucille Clifton (1936-2010)
May she rest in peace, secure in the knowledge that she brought a wealth of wisdom and beauty during her time here. I love Dwayne Betts’s memorial, especially this passage, which made my eyes crinkle with tears and laughter:
Anyway, I proceeded to ask her four hundred and eleven questions about her work. I mean about specific poems that dating ten and twenty years old. She was so damn gracious. I mean, she’d look at me like — I know your hand isn’t up again, and then she’d call on me. And smile. Or laugh. It was one of the few moments in my life when I was utterly grateful. The woman was awesome.
I never got to meet her in person, but: yes. Yes, she was.
curling them around
i hold their bodies in obscene embrace
thinking of everything but kinship.
collards and kale
strain against each strange other
away from my kissmaking hand and
the iron bedpot.
the pot is black.
the cutting board is black,
and just for a minute
the greens roll black under the knife,
and the kitchen twists dark on its spine
and i taste in my natural appetite
the bond of live things everywhere.
—Lucille Clifton, 1973
Previously posted Clifton poems: