By Lynn Emanuel b. 1949 Lynn Emanuel
This was the winter mother told time by my heart
ticking like a frayed fan belt in my chest.
This was the fifties & we were living on nothing
& what of her, the black girl, my own black nurse,
what of her who arrived on Greyhound in the heart
of so dramatic a storm it froze the sleeves at her wrists
& each nostril was rimed with white like salt on a glass,
what of her who came up the dark stair on the limp of her   
own bad ticker, weary, arrogant, thin, her suitcase noosed
with rope, in the grip of a rage she came, a black woman,
into our white lives, like a splinter, & stayed. Charming
& brilliantly condescending, she leaned down to kiss “the baby,”   
& hissed my little princess & hushed the Jordan & set the chariots
on the golden streets & Mother, I cried to her, & went out like a light.

Lynn Emanuel, “Seizure,” from The Dig. Copyright © 1984, 1992, 1995 by Lynn Emanuel. Reprinted with the permission of the author and the University of Illinois Press.

Source: The Dig (University of Illinois Press, 1992)

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

Poet Lynn Emanuel b. 1949

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Social Commentaries, Living, Health & Illness, Family & Ancestors, Race & Ethnicity, Relationships

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Lynn  Emanuel


Lynn Emanuel is the author of several volumes of poetry. She sees her Hotel Fiesta (1984), The Dig (1992), and Then, Suddenly— (1999) as a triptych exploring the convention and flexibility of the book, and the agency of readers and writers. As poet Eavan Boland notes, “Lynn Emanuel’s poems have a rare power: they connect to the world through estrangement.”

The Dig received the National Poetry Series Award. Emanuel’s work has . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Living, Health & Illness, Family & Ancestors, Race & Ethnicity, Relationships

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.