Sailing away with Christine

As Poem Elf jumps back to featuring the work of guest assistants, Lucille Clifton’s “blessing the boats” provides just the right transition. In uncertain times, in the midst of a movement that takes us we know not where, Clifton’s words inspire excitement and calm at once—

 

may the tide

that is entering even now

the lip of our understanding

carry you out

beyond the face of fear

 

My beautiful niece Christine of Washington, D.C. posted this one. The helm’s all yours, Christine!

 

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blessing the boats

 

(at St. Mary’s)

 

by Lucille Clifton

 

may the tide

that is entering even now

the lip of our understanding

carry you out

beyond the face of fear

may you kiss

the wind then turn from it

certain that it  will

love your back       may you

open your eyes to water

water waving forever

and may you in your innocence

sail through this to that

 

 

I chose “blessing the boats” by Lucille Clifton. I liked the reference to “that” . . . whatever life brings next. I taped it to a bench at the DC wharf. The pier said it was only open to wharf residents but I slipped by without notice.

 

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A biography of Clifton from a previous post:

Lucille Clifton was born in New York in 1936.  Her father was a steelworker who sexually abused her, and her mother was a laundress and gifted poet with little formal education. At age sixteen Clifton attended Howard University as a drama major.  She finished her studies in New York.

 

 

She had six children with her husband Fred, a professor at the University of Buffalo.  She was the poet laureate of my home state of Maryland where she eventually settled. She won the National Book Award and was the first African-American woman to win the prestigious Ruth Lilly Prize. She had a separate career as a writer of children’s books and the most unusual career for a famous poet I’ve ever heard of:  Jeopardy show champion.  She died in 2010 at age 73.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Julia Ralston

    Wow I loved this one. Will savor. Thank Christine for me. Incidentally, my daughter lives in DC on 16th St. Not far from the WH. We rarely go to the wharf, but instead meander through parks such as Dumbarton Oaks, cemeteries, along Rock Creek I think.

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  2. Pam Sheen

    Ah lovely, can never tire of Lucille. Have heard this same poem twice in my UU virtual services after I posted it at Como Lake. Keep up the cause, Maggie!

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