[evening and my dead once husband]

Lucille Clifton

evening and my dead once husbandrises up from the spirit boardthrough trembled air        i moanthe names of our wayward sonsand ask him to explain        whyi fuss like a fishwife        whycancer and terrible lonelinessand the wars against our peopleand the room glimmers as if washedin tears and out of the mist a handbecomes flesh and i watchas its pointing fingers spellit does not help to know

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Lucille Clifton (1936 – 2010) was an award winning poet, fiction writer, and author of children’s books. Her poetry collection, Blessing the Boats: New & Selected Poems 1988-2000 (BOA, 2000), won the National Book Award for Poetry. In 1988 she became the only author to have two collections selected in the same year as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir (BOA, 1987), and Next: New Poems (BOA, 1987). In 1996, her collection The Terrible Stories (BOA, 1996), was a finalist for the National Book Award. Among her many other awards and accolades are the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Frost Medal, and an Emmy Award. In 2013, her posthumously published collection The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 (BOA, 2012), was awarded the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry.

“Clifton was one of America’s great poets, whose work throughout her lifetime was committed to chronicling and celebrating black lives. The honesty, joy, wisdom, and hope she brought to this task is regenerative.”
—Tracy K. Smith, former U.S. Poet Laureate

“Clifton’s earliest poems could have been written yesterday, and her later works could have been written decades ago. Each poem is always its own world. Her poems touch on the political, the personal, the spiritual.”
—Reginald Dwayne Betts, The New York Times

“Open up to any page and Clifton delivers a word. Whether the subject is roaches, family, death, or surviving, she has a psalm for all occasions. She can create the most complicated magic out of the simplest words.”
—Danez Smith, The Week

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