Kin

Kin

By Maya Angelou b. 1928 Maya Angelou

FOR BAILEY

We were entwined in red rings   
Of blood and loneliness before   
The first snows fell
Before muddy rivers seeded clouds   
Above a virgin forest, and   
Men ran naked, blue and black   
Skinned into the warm embraces   
Of Sheba, Eve and Lilith.
I was your sister.

You left me to force strangers   
Into brother molds, exacting   
Taxations they never
Owed or could ever pay.

You fought to die, thinking   
In destruction lies the seed   
Of birth. You may be right.

I will remember silent walks in   
Southern woods and long talks   
In low voices
Shielding meaning from the big ears   
Of overcurious adults.

You may be right.   
Your slow return from
Regions of terror and bloody
Screams, races my heart.
I hear again the laughter   
Of children and see fireflies   
Bursting tiny explosions in   
An Arkansas twilight.

Maya Angelou, “Kin” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, Inc.

Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994)

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Poet Maya Angelou b. 1928

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Relationships

 Maya  Angelou

Biography

An acclaimed American poet and autobiographer, Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou has had a varied career as a singer, dancer, actress, composer, and Hollywood's first female black director, but is most famous as a writer, editor, essayist, playwright, and poet. As a civil rights activist, Angelou worked for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. She has also been an educator and is . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Relationships

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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