1994

 

i was leaving my fifty-eighth year
when a thumb of ice
stamped itself hard near my heart

 

you have your own story
you know about the fears the tears
the scar of disbelief

 

you know that the saddest lies
are the ones we tell ourselves
you know how dangerous it is

 

to be born with breasts
you know how dangerous it is
to wear dark skin

 

i was leaving my fifty-eighth year
when i woke into the winter
of a cold and mortal body

 

thin icicles hanging off
the one mad nipple weeping

 

have we not been good children
did we not inherit the earth

 

but you must know all about this
from your own shivering life

 
 

—Lucille Clifton