here rests

By Lucille Clifton 1936–2010 Lucille Clifton
my sister Josephine
born july in '29
and dead these 15 years
who carried a book
on every stroll.

when daddy was dying
she left the streets
and moved back home
to tend him.

her pimp came too
her Diamond Dick
and they would take turns
reading

a bible aloud through the house.
when you poem this
and you will   she would say
remember the Book of Job.

happy birthday and hope
to you Josephine
one of the easts
most wanted.

may heaven be filled
with literate men
may they bed you
with respect.

Lucille Clifton, "here rests" from Mercy. Copyright © 2004 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.

Source: Mercy (BOA Editions Ltd., 2004)

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Poet Lucille Clifton 1936–2010

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Religion, Relationships, Living

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Elegy

 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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Religion, Relationships, Living

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Elegy

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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