52 Poetry: Week Two

an ordinary woman (1974)
by Lucille Clifton

More often than not, her poems deal directly with or allude to time –it’s essence, the hunger for it, death, forever, now…something. And she’s always in the business of repetition, too, which I would venture to say is an element of time.

She is all time and war and only mentions (in a fleeting, passing type of way) love. She is:

     light and fire

     time

     dreams

     free

      memory

             remembering

     mother

     future

     children

     some death

     life

     poetry

                             (Now, tell me that don’t look like poem?)

And during the second week’s reading, I was able to narrow my fave poems down to a few…and I have a large cluster of fave lines.

The first full poem:

i am running into a new year     (pg 45)

'i am running in to a new year' - an ordinary woman by lucille clifton
And the second:

the thirty eighth year       (pg 93)

'the thirty eighth year' - an ordinary woman by lucille clifton

Both poems are titleless, which I love. I love it despite being taught to title every. single. thing. Everything you write gets a title. I love it despite being taught it’s a cop out to leave your writing without a name.

And as for the lines that stuck out — I know it could well be dangerous to take them out of the context of their respective poems. And, I know it could well be dangerous to reduce whole poems to their parts. Meh. I think these particular lines function on their own. I mean, they did warrant an underline and a double takes. And these are the lines, mostly, that prompted me to scribble down my own poem.

Just a few of the lines:

and i wish for myself–
more than one
(from ‘Leanna’s Poem’)
    —

let me in my
sojourning
not forget
to ask my brothers
ain’t i a woman too
(from ‘Harriet’)
    —

i command you to be
good runenrs
to go with grace
go well in the dark and
make for high ground
(from ‘Last Note to My Girls’)

       Onward … to week three.

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