Not Forgotten

By Toi Derricotte b. 1941 Toi Derricotte
I love the way the black ants use their dead.
They carry them off like warriors on their steel
backs. They spend hours struggling, lifting,
dragging (it is not grisly as it would be for us,
to carry them back to be eaten),
so that every part will be of service. I think of
my husband at his father’s grave—
the grass had closed
over the headstone, and the name had disappeared. He took out   
his pocket knife and cut the grass away, he swept it
with his handkerchief to make it clear. “Is this the way
we’ll be forgotten?” And he bent down over the grave and wept.

Toi Derricotte, “Not Forgotten” from Tender. Copyright © 1997 by Toi Derricotte. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, www.upress.pitt.edu. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: Tender (1997)

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Poet Toi Derricotte b. 1941

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Death, Animals, Living, Relationships, Nature

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Toi  Derricotte

Biography

Toi Derricotte is an award-winning poet whose writings, though frequently autobiographical, treat universal subjects such as racism and identity in ways that are moving, painful, and illuminating. Her style is credited with an evocative simplicity reminiscent of Emily Dickinson, though it also contains the kind of expansive colloquial expression attributed to Walt Whitman. Derricotte is also known for treating sexual topics with . . .

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SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Death, Animals, Living, Relationships, Nature

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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