[if mama / could see]

By Lucille Clifton 1936–2010 Lucille Clifton
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.

Lucille Clifton, “[if mama/could see]” from Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir, 1969-1980. Copyright ©1987 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.

Source: The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (1997)

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Poet Lucille Clifton 1936–2010

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Home Life, Relationships, Living, Youth

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Lucille  Clifton

Biography

A prolific and widely respected poet, Lucille Clifton's work emphasizes endurance and strength through adversity, focusing particularly on African-American experience and family life. Awarding the prestigious Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize to Clifton in 2007, the judges remarked that “One always feels the looming humaneness around Lucille Clifton’s poems—it is a moral quality that some poets have and some don’t.” In addition to the . . .

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SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Home Life, Relationships, Living, Youth

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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