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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.

Wednesday 9/12/01

Wednesday 9/12/2001

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
a poem in seven parts


1   
convent

my knees recall the pockets
worn into the stone floor,
my hands, tracing against the wall 
their original name, remember
the cold brush of brick, and the smell   
of the brick powdery and wet
and the light finding its way in
through the high bars.

and also the
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

My Mama moved among the days
like a dreamwalker in a field;
seemed like what she touched was hers
seemed like what touched her couldn’t hold,
she got us almost through the high grass
then seemed like she turned around and ran
right back in
right back on in