if mama
could see
she would see   
lucy sprawling   
limbs of lucy
decorating the
backs of chairs
lucy hair
holding the mirrors up   
that reflect odd   
aspects of lucy.

if mama
could hear
she would hear
lucysong rolled in the
corners like lint
exotic webs of lucysighs
long lucy spiders explaining   
to obscure gods.

if mama
could talk
she would talk
good girl   
good girl   
good girl
clean up your room.

  • Lucille Clifton, “[if mama/could see]” from Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir, 1969-1980. Copyright ©1987 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.

  • Source: The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (1997)

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"While the competition and chance to recite is wonderful in itself, there is a very strong camaraderie among the competitors like nothing I've experienced before. It's the kind of environment that has inspired me and allowed me to grow not only as a reciter but also as a poet, performer, and person."
Savina Magdalena Barini
2014 ID POL Champion