Lucille Clifton (born Thelma Lucille Sayles)

African American poet, Lucille Clifton (born 1936 – died 2010) is one of the first women poets whose poetry I discovered while browsing in a college bookstore in the Midwest in the mid 1970s (a college English major I enjoyed looking at the literature books).  Ms. Clifton’s poetry felt refreshing and spontaneous in its frankness.  To me, she was a kindred spirit who had wisdom and insight that she shared with her reader generously.

About 10 years later, living in a city in the Northeast, I attended a workshop with Ms. Clifton.  Unfortunately since I didn’t find out that this event was taking place until 3 days after it started, I was a latecomer and was not able to fully be involved in the sharing of poetry that was occurring with the participants.  However for me it didn’t matter.  I was just thrilled to see Ms. Clifton in person, this poet whose work I had found on my own and admired a lot.

It’s funny, as I thought when I showed up the final night of the workshop that Ms. Clifton looked at me strangely.  There were only 7-8 people gathered around a table in a small conference room. I mumbled something about just hearing about the workshop the day before and wanting to attend anyway.  She was gracious about my being an interloper.  I tried to keep a low profile and was grateful she allowed me to remain.

My Mama Moved Among Days

My Mama moved among the days

like a dreamwalker in a field,

seemed like what she touched was here

seemed like what touched her couldn’t hold,

she got us almost through the high grass

then seemed like she turned around and ran

right back in

right back on in

 

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