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

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memory

ask me to tell how it feels
remembering your mother's face
turned to water under the white words
of the man at the shoe store. ask me,
though she tells it better than i do,
not because of her charm
but because it never happened
she says,
no bully salesman swaggering,
no rage, no shame, none of it
ever happened.
i only remember buying you
your first grown up shoes
she smiles. ask me
how it feels.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003


Read poems about / on: remember, mother, water, memory, smile

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  • Anna Russell (12/20/2006 4:00:00 PM)

    This poem takes my breath away. Such a gentle, subtle way of pointing out the injustices forced upon innocent people by the isms of others. She could have gone into full detail about the horrific things being said, but instead what shines out of this poem is a mother's love for her child and need to protect her. In the face of such ignorance, Clifton shows us humanity. For me, this is up there with 'If you prick us do we not bleed...'. Don't let the simplicity of the writing fool you - this poem matters.
    Hugs
    Anna xxx

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