being property once myself
i have a feeling for it,
that’s why i can talk
about environment.
what wants to be a tree,
ought to be he can be it.
same thing for other things.
same thing for men.
nobody mentioned war
but doors were closed
black women shaved their heads
black men rustled in the alleys like leaves
prophets were ambushed as they spoke
and from their holes black eagles flew
screaming through the streets
new bones
we will wear
new bones again.
we will leave
these rainy days,
break out through
another mouth
into sun and honey time.
worlds buzz over us like bees,
we be splendid in new bones.
other people think they know
how long life is
how strong life is.
we know.

lucille clifton’s poems mesmerize us with vivid imagery, powerful honesty and dreamy melodies.  deceptively simple, clifton’s short poems contain entire landscapes, histories, declarations and songs of myself.  the beautiful language coalesces into deep metaphors and brave truths about race, slavery, war, sexism and civil rights.

in humanizing the exploited earth, clifton humanizes exploited people.  she returns us to our ancient and innate humanity where we come from the sun, putting forth healing energy.

the lack of punctuation and capitalization gives the poems in good woman a streamlined immediacy that we admire.  each line break is music that produces a complete sensation.

we’re sympathetic to the view that everyone should be allowed to be who they are: the tree, the woman,the man, the rain.

lucille clifton is one of our most beloved art ancestors.


work cited: clifton, lucille.  good woman: poems and a memoir 1969-1980.  brockport: boa editions limited, 1987.  print.