Legacies

By Nikki Giovanni b. 1943 Nikki Giovanni
her grandmother called her from the playground   
       “yes, ma’am”
       “i want chu to learn how to make rolls” said the old   
woman proudly
but the little girl didn’t want
to learn how because she knew
even if she couldn’t say it that
that would mean when the old one died she would be less   
dependent on her spirit so
she said
       “i don’t want to know how to make no rolls”
with her lips poked out
and the old woman wiped her hands on
her apron saying “lord
       these children”
and neither of them ever
said what they meant
and i guess nobody ever does

Nikki Giovanni, “Legacies” from My House. Copyright © 1972 by NikkiGiovanni. Used with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: The Collected Poems of Nikki Giovanni (2003)

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Poet Nikki Giovanni b. 1943

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Living, Youth, Relationships, Coming of Age

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Nikki  Giovanni

Biography

Nikki Giovanni is one of the best-known African-American poets who reached prominence during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Her unique and insightful poetry testifies to her own evolving awareness and experiences: from child to young woman, from naive college freshman to seasoned civil rights activist, from daughter to mother. Frequently anthologized, Giovanni’s poetry expresses strong racial pride and respect for family. Her . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Living, Youth, Relationships, Coming of Age

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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