my poem

By Lucille Clifton 1936–2010 Lucille Clifton
a love person
from love people
out of the afrikan sun
under the sign of cancer.
whoever see my
midnight smile
seeing star apple and
mango from home.
whoever take me for
a negative thing,
his death be on him
like a skin
and his skin
be his heart’s revenge.
 
 
*
 


 
 
 
 
lucy one-eye
she got her mama’s ways.
big round roller
can’t cook
can’t clean
if that’s what you want
you got it world.
 
lucy one-eye
she see the world sideways.
word foolish
she say what she don’t want
to say, she don’t say
what she want to.
 
lucy one-eye
she won’t walk away
from it.
she’ll keep on trying
with her crooked look
and her wrinkled ways,
the darling girl.
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
if mama
could see
she would see
lucy sprawling
limbs of lucy
decorating the
backs of chairs
lucy hair
holding the mirrors up
that reflect odd
aspects of lucy.
 
if mama
could hear
she would hear
lucysong rolled in the
corners like lint
exotic webs of lucysighs
long lucy spiders explaining
to obscure gods.
 
if mama
could talk
she would talk
good girl
good girl
good girl
clean up your room.
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
 


i was born in a hotel,
a maskmaker.
my bones were knit by
a perilous knife.
my skin turned around
at midnight and
i entered the earth in
a woman jar.
i learned the world all
wormside up
and this is my yes
my strong fingers;
i was born in a bed of
good lessons
and it has made me
wise.
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
 
 
light
on my mother’s tongue
breaks through her soft
extravagant hip
into life.
lucille
she calls the light,
which was the name
of the grandmother
who waited by the crossroads
in virginia
and shot the whiteman off his horse,
killing the killer of sons.
light breaks from her life
to her lives…
 
mine already is
an afrikan name.
 
 
*

Lucille Clifton, "my poem" from The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton. Copyright © 1987 by Lucille Clifton.  Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.

Source: Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir (BOA Editions, Ltd., 1980)

RELATED CONTENT

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Lucille Clifton 1936–2010

Subjects Living, Coming of Age, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality, Race & Ethnicity

Poetic Terms Series/Sequence