the lost women by Lucille Clifton

i need to know their names
those women i would have walked with
jauntily the way men go in groups
swinging their arms, and the ones
those sweating women whom i would have joined
after a hard game to chew the fat
what would we have called each other laughing
joking into our beer? where are my gangs,
my teams, my mislaid sisters?
all the women who could have known me,
where in the world are their names?

homage to my hips by Lucille Clifton

these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!

 

generations by Lucille Clifton

people who are going to be
in a few years
at the bottom of trees
bear a responsibility to something
besides people
if it was only
you and me
sharing the consequences
it would be different
it would be just
generations of men
but
this business of war
these war kinds of things
are erasing those natural
obedient generations
whose ignored pride
stood on no hind legs
begged no water
stole no bread
did their own things
and the generations of rice
of coal
of grasshoppers

for their invisibility
denounce us

 

I Am Accused Of Tending To The Past by Lucille Clifton

i am accused of tending to the past
as if i made it,
as if i sculpted it
with my own hands. i did not.
this past was waiting for me
when i came,
a monstrous unnamed baby,
and i with my mother’s itch
took it to breast
and named it
History.
she is more human now,
learning languages everyday,
remembering faces, names and dates.
when she is strong enough to travel
on her own, beware, she will.

moonchild by Lucille Clifton

whatever slid into my mother’s room that
late june night, tapping her great belly,
summoned me out roundheaded and unsmiling.
is this the moon, my father used to grin.
cradling me? it was the moon
but nobody knew it then.
the moon understands dark places.
the moon has secrets of her own.
she holds what light she can.
we girls were ten years old and giggling
in our hand-me-downs. we wanted breasts,
pretended that we had them, tissued
our undershirts. jay johnson is teaching
me to french kiss, ella bragged, who
is teaching you? how do you say; my father?
the moon is queen of everything.
she rules the oceans, rivers, rain.
when I am asked whose tears these are
I always blame the moon.