Family

By Marilyn Nelson b. 1946 Marilyn Nelson
My master/father sent me up from South
Carolina to Boston as a nine-year-old.
My mother's illiterate silence has been a death.
I wonder if she still labors in his fields.
His sister, dutiful but cold as snow,
gave me a little room in her house, below
the stairs with the Irish servants, who hated me
for the fatal flaw in my genealogy.
For the first time in my life I am at home
in this bevy of scholars, my first family.
Here, the wallpapers welcome me into every room,
and the mirrors see me, not my pedigree.
My sisters, Jerusha, Emilia, Elizabeth ...
But Mama's unlettered silence is a death.


Marilyn Nelson, "Family" from Faster Than Light: New and Selected Poems, 1996-2011. Copyright © 2012 by Marilyn Nelson.  Reprinted by permission of Marilyn Nelson.

Source: Faster Than Light: New and Selected Poems, 1996-2011 (Louisiana State University Press, 2012)

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Poet Marilyn Nelson b. 1946

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity

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 Marilyn  Nelson

Biography

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, into a military family, Marilyn Nelson is a three-time finalist for the National Book Award and an accomplished poet, children’s verse author, and translator. She has won two Pushcart Prizes, two Yaddo residencies, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and the 2012 Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America. Nelson is a professor emeritus at the . . .

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SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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