Maya Angelou’s Birthday

Maya Angelou's book of PoemsGoogle, today, honored Maya Angelou on what would be her 90th b-day. They did this with a Google Doodle of one of her famous poems: “Still I Rise” https://g.co/doodle/hqbawy?ds=em I like this poem well enough but wish they wouldn’t have chopped it up with guest readers. Too sappy for my taste. Safe. Accessible. Vanilla for the masses.

Reaching for a collection of her poems on my shelf and thumbing through it one is reminded of so many less safe (for children) challenging, Rocky-Road with Tabasco on top… pieces; poems that I wouldn’t consider reprinting here. She was brave, raw, and real much of the time. She’s not my favorite poet but she could really “bring it” sometimes and I am so grateful she wrote and grateful I’ve had a chance to read some of her books and much of her poetry.

Here’s a poem I came across while flipping through her book just now: (still safe for young readers)

Africa

Thus she had lain
sugar cane sweet
deserts her hair
golden her feet
mountains her breasts
two Niles her tears
Thus she has lain
Black through the years.

Over the white seas
rime white and cold
brigands ungentled
icicle bold
took her young daughters
sold her strong sons
churched her with Jesus
bled her with guns.
Thus she has lain.

Now she is rising
remember her pain
remember the losses
her screams loud and vain
remember her riches
her history slain
now she is striding
although she had lain.


Google. Thank you for reminding me of Maya Angelou today.

In Blackwater Woods by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go


Click here and buy the book this poem appears in!


Apparently September 10th is Mary Oliver’s birthday so it is in honor of this fact that I post one of her poems above.