the lost baby poem

Lucille Clifton

 
the time i dropped your almost body down
down to meet the waters under the city
and run one with the sewage to the sea
what did i know about waters rushing back
what did i know about drowning
or being drowned
you would have been born into winter
in the year of the disconnected gas
and no car       we would have made the thin
walk over genesee hill into the canada wind
to watch you slip like ice into strangers’ hands
you would have fallen naked as snow into winter
if you were here i could tell you these
and some other things
if i am ever less than a mountain
for your definite brothers and sisters
let the rivers pour over my head
let the sea take me for a spiller
of seas        let black men call me stranger
always        for your never named sake

later i’ll say

  i spent my life
  loving a great man

later

  my life will accuse me
  of various treasons

not black enough

  too black
  eyes closed when they should have been open
  eyes open when they should have been closed

will accuse me for unborn babies

  and dead trees

later

  when i defend again and again
  with this love
  my life will keep silent
  listening to
  my body breaking

 
Lucille Clifton, "the lost baby poem" from The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton. Copyright © 1991 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with permission of BOA Editions, Ltd., boaeditions.org.

Poems by This Author

4/30/92 for rodney king by Lucille Clifton
so
blessing the boats by Lucille Clifton
may the tide
cutting greens by Lucille Clifton
curling them around
far memory by Lucille Clifton
my knees recall the pockets
here rests by Lucille Clifton
my sister Josephine
homage to my hips by Lucille Clifton
these hips are big hips.
it was a dream by Lucille Clifton
in which my greater self
jasper texas 1998 by Lucille Clifton
i am a man's head hunched in the road
miss rosie by Lucille Clifton
when I watch you
mulberry fields by Lucille Clifton
they thought the field was wasting
my dream about being white by Lucille Clifton
hey music and me only white
poem in praise of menstruation by Lucille Clifton
if there is a river
poem to my uterus by Lucille Clifton
you uterus
sisters by Lucille Clifton
me and you be sisters...
sorrows by Lucille Clifton
who would believe them winged
the earth is a living thing by Lucille Clifton
is a black shambling bear
the lost women by Lucille Clifton
i need to know their names
to my last period by Lucille Clifton
well, girl, goodbye
wishes for sons by Lucille Clifton
i wish them cramps.
won't you celebrate with me by Lucille Clifton
won't you celebrate with me


Further Reading

Poems about Loss
Affirmation
by Donald Hall
Ashes
by Paula Meehan
Burning the Old Year
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Catastrophe Theory III
by Mary Jo Bang
Challenger
by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon
Dove, Interrupted
by Lucie Brock-Broido
Etta's Elegy
by Maureen Seaton
from Projection
by Lidija Dimkovska
Haunted
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Headaches
by Marilyn Hacker
Heavy Summer Rain
by Jane Kenyon
I Found Her Out There
by Thomas Hardy
I'll Try to Tell You What I Know
by Martha Serpas
Loss
by Carl Adamshick
Making Apple Sauce with my Dead Grandmother
by Bianca Stone
On Disappearing
by Major Jackson
please advise stop [I was dragging a ladder slowly over stones stop]
by Rusty Morrison
Radar Data #12
by Lytton Smith
Room in Antwerp
by Laure-Anne Bosselaar
Song ["When I am dead, my dearest"]
by Christina Rossetti
Stairway to Heaven
by Alison Hawthorne Deming
The Power of the Dog
by Rudyard Kipling
To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like a Death
by Lloyd Schwartz
Token Loss
by Kay Ryan
When They Die We Change Our Minds About Them
by Jennifer Michael Hecht