For Lucille Clifton (1937-2010)

I woke up this morning and discovered that poet Lucille Clifton had died
I found her books on my shelf and sat reading about hips, about uteruses

and about sons and daughters and Malcolm X, about Lazarus
I read Lucille’s wonderful poems and meanwhile the sun
came up a bright gold jewel at the top of a snowcapped mountain
one time in 1992 I believe it was
Lucille Clifton visited my university and I drove her to the airport
I bought her breakfast, eggs and toast and jam
something I have thought about from time to time
she told me about her six children and how
she didn’t like to be blamed for their shortcomings
and so wouldn’t take any credit for their successes
I told her I was thinking about adopting a baby but was afraid and she said
girl if you want a baby you go right ahead and get yourself one
but don’t think it’s going to solve anything
you will still have to write your poems and maybe even more

of them just to atone