For Maya Angelou

May 29, 2014

We were the people, they the whitefolk.
Their world verged on ours without touching.
I looked on them as wraiths parading,
unclutchable and unreal spirits
gliding pretty with their eerie ways.

Born without grandeur, I was misusedmayababy-1
and the devastating clarity
of my voice so thrilled and frightened
I was struck dumb in Arkansas
in communion with the ancient ghosts

who walked through books.

Your life comes at you hard — unbidden
and rampant. And you look up and see
a raw sun or a cold moon climbing
and know the turning, sliding Earth
will one day fall away, delivering

us to the peace of nothingness

or to the bliss in everything.

And so this caged bird dared to sing.


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