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

2018, or, What I Think When I Watch the Rain

have we not been good children
did we not inherit the earth – lucille clifton

 

& then it was understood Daddy would leave me.
Everyone one day will have this story. I know
grief & our deep dive into it: the waves
the tidal waves boil up without sirens.
How he let me leave Columbia last without a goodbye.
Our first estrangement. Then he left me. His cold
& mortal body in the hospital room. I open
the windows. Let the spirit out. The rains
& winds sweep in. You know how dangerous
it is to be Black in this world without a moral compass.
Daddy is gone. I know how dangerous it is to be Black
in this world & not give a fuck. I lift his shotgun,
hold its cold weight. Consider the trigger,
small lynchpin of power. Choose to live.
Choose to let live. The day we honored
him his body was elsewhere
waiting a fire. Outside, a blinding rain.
Not the Devil beating his wife. Not
wedded-good-luck-bliss. But maybe
what it must feel like to leave this world.
We drove across town in separate cars,
my husband lost behind the curtain of rain.
& a new question to the gods: My husband,
too? You’ll take my husband, too?
Waking
in my parents’ empty house. Daddy is gone.
Have I not been a good daughter? Sissy brought
his body back in a box unceremoniously
like having just come back from running an errand.
Somehow, I am expected to walk the streets of my city
without Daddy in it. I trudge like a climbing out of quicksand.
Again, grief & the great unlet go of it. I don’t know
what to do with my father’s body. In the house
with no one in it. I look out the window
& a black fox trots across the yard.
Rains again. Do I now inherit his earth?

DéLana R.A. Dameron

DéLana R.A. Dameron’s second collection of poems Weary Kingdom (2017) is part of the University of South Carolina Palmetto Poetry Series, edited by Nikky Finney ...