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Joy and Hope and All That: A Tribute to Lucille Clifton

Reading Lucille Clifton I hear that rhyme can be an Away From, & attempted Return To, its origin. The carrying & uncarrying of its mother/sound.


I enter then this motherhood on my knees & hide the clove
inside of one name, the secret head inside of one.
Other things I cannot know. Like
what it was to carry the purple root.
Such is loss. An egg,
a jar of smoke.
We stood in line.
When it was our time
there was no long road leading us to
each other. This is my poem, my luck.
These are my hands. This one of my cups is empty
but for your names
next to the clouds
inside the orange trees.
I have seen them, mothers of mothers of mothers
at the train stations & in the park
smoothing flat their broad sheets across the grass.
I lift the baby to my hip and take my son’s hand.
One mother cannot be enough.
I have one mother now you know.
But once there were      more
& they were for me once
as I am for my children.
It is true I am a rhyme, but a rhyme looking back
though my two pull from me &
I am frictive with time, haggard with milk—
& each breast, it hisses
with future.

Aracelis Girmay

Aracelis Girmay

Aracelis Girmay is the author of three books of poems: the black maria,  Teeth, and Kingdom Animalia ...