this past was waiting for me when I came

“i am accused of tending to the past”

by Lucille Clifton ( 1936-2010)

i am accused of tending to the past
as if i made it,
as if i sculpted it
with my own hands. i did not.
this past was waiting for me
when i came,
a monstrous unnamed baby,
and i with my mother’s itch
took it to breast
and named it
History.
she is more human now,
learning languages everyday,
remembering faces, names and dates.
when she is strong enough to travel
on her own, beware, she will.

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If you think you can grasp me, think again

A spare but commanding piece from one of my favorite poetic powerhouses, Adrienne Rich (1929-2012).

“Delta”

If you have taken this rubble for my past
raking through it for fragments you could sell
know that I long ago moved on
deeper into the heart of the matter

If you think you can grasp me, think again;
my story flows in more than one direction
a delta springing from the river bed
with its five fingers spread.