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About this Poem 

In September 2001, Lucille Clifton sent the Academy of American Poets a short manuscript of seven poems, one for each day of the week, entitled "September Suite" in response to the events that transpired on September 11th. This poem is from that manuscript.

Tuesday 9/11/01

Tuesday 9/11/2001 by Lucille Clifton

From the Academy of American Poets Archives. This poem is part of "September Suite" by Lucille Clifton, 2001.

From the Academy of American Poets Archives. This poem is part of "September Suite" by Lucille Clifton, 2001.

Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton, the author of Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988–2000 (BOA Editions, 2000), which won the National Book Award, was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 1999.

by this poet

poem
so
the body
of one black man
is rag and stone
is mud
and blood
the body of one
black man
contains no life
worth loving
so the body
of one black man
is nobody
mama
mama
mamacita
is there no value
in this skin
mama
mama
if we are nothing
why
should we spare
the neighborhood
mama
mama
who will be next and
why should
poem
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
poem

(at St. Mary's)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back    may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail