FOR BAILEY

We were entwined in red rings   
Of blood and loneliness before   
The first snows fell
Before muddy rivers seeded clouds   
Above a virgin forest, and   
Men ran naked, blue and black   
Skinned into the warm embraces   
Of Sheba, Eve and Lilith.
I was your sister.

You left me to force strangers   
Into brother molds, exacting   
Taxations they never
Owed or could ever pay.

You fought to die, thinking   
In destruction lies the seed   
Of birth. You may be right.

I will remember silent walks in   
Southern woods and long talks   
In low voices
Shielding meaning from the big ears   
Of overcurious adults.

You may be right.   
Your slow return from
Regions of terror and bloody
Screams, races my heart.
I hear again the laughter   
Of children and see fireflies   
Bursting tiny explosions in   
An Arkansas twilight.

Note to Poetry Out Loud students: This poem begins with an epigraph that must be recited. Omitting the epigraph will affect your accuracy score.
  • Maya Angelou, “Kin” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

  • Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994)

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"What really makes a poem dynamic is not the use of grand gestures. Rather, it is the tones and expressions of the voice that help listeners connect and understand the meaning of a poem."
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2017 USVI POL Champ