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(June 27, 1936 - February 13, 2010 / Baltimore, Maryland)

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whatever slid into my mother's room that
late june night, tapping her great belly,
summoned me out roundheaded and unsmiling.
is this the moon, my father used to grin.
cradling me? it was the moon
but nobody knew it then.

the moon understands dark places.
the moon has secrets of her own.
she holds what light she can.

we girls were ten years old and giggling
in our hand-me-downs. we wanted breasts,
pretended that we had them, tissued
our undershirts. jay johnson is teaching
me to french kiss, ella bragged, who
is teaching you? how do you say; my father?

the moon is queen of everything.
she rules the oceans, rivers, rain.
when I am asked whose tears these are
I always blame the moon.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

Read poems about / on: moon, june, father, kiss, rain, mother, dark, light, night, ocean, river, girl

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Comments about this poem (memory by Lucille Clifton )

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  • Richard Hexem (3/29/2010 11:03:00 PM)

    That last verse is outstanding! It would make a great poem all by itself!
    It wouldn't let me go!

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  • Mallory Christianson (4/19/2008 10:31:00 PM)

    This is a gorgeous poem. I just read it for the first time in my poetry class on Wednesday and I must have read it at least fifty times since. Every time I read it I almost want to cry.

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