oh antic God
return to me
my mother in her thirties   
leaned across the front porch   
the huge pillow of her breasts   
pressing against the rail
summoning me in for bed.

I am almost the dead woman’s age times two.

I can barely recall her song
the scent of her hands
though her wild hair scratches my dreams   
at night.   return to me, oh Lord of then   
and now, my mother’s calling,
her young voice humming my name.

  • Lucille Clifton, “ ‘oh antic God’ ” from Mercy. Copyright © 2004 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.

  • Source: Mercy (BOA Editions, Ltd. , 2004)

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"I was surprised how attached I got to my poems. I've had "Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg" memorized since my sophomore year, and whenever I get nervous or anxious about something I recite it to myself. "
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