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Melissa Ginsburg

Oversight

About this Poem 

“‘Oversight’ uses the language of psychological experiments to talk about the ways our desire for knowledge can obfuscate reality. The speakers here are imaginary scientists. They are worried about objectivity, about what is truly knowable and provable. The human desire for facts might require an element of cruelty.”
Melissa Ginsburg

Oversight

Melissa Ginsburg

Our subjects were nice. We kept

our distance. We brewed detachment
in bottles. “We kept our distance”

is an anecdote. Her name

is Anecdote. She was born in the study.
Cages, bottles. Books all around.

She was our favorite / forbid us

to see her. She was the muse
for the bottles marked “Distance”

from which we drank. Could not

get by without. We buried the results;
they were dead. It was painless

for us. Thanks

to detachment. Our hypothesis held up
a snapshot. Braces, barrettes.
 

Copyright © 2015 by Melissa Ginsburg. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 2, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Melissa Ginsburg. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 2, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

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Lemon Andersen reads on the High Line as part of “After Sunset: Poetry Walk," New York City, 2015.
poem

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
Maya Angelou
1978
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