5. From The Book Of David: dancer

I have ruled

for forty years,

seven in hebron

thirty-three in Jerusalem


I have lain under the stars

and dreamed of foreign women.

I have dreamed my legs around them,



some nights,

holding them in the dream,

I would feel us

swallowed by the sky.


lately I have begun to bed

with virgins,

their round breasts warm

to an old man.


I hold my seed

still plentiful as stars.

it is not my time.


somewhere something is choosing.

I can feel it dancing in me,

something to do with

virgins and with stars.


I am grown old and full of days.

my thighs are trembling.

what will the world remember,

what matters to time,

I wonder,

the dancer or the dance?

–Lucille Clifton

Women’s Plight


Change is a bitter strange fruit

that shapes at my crevices

the hurts sting

nothing is static tree

the world opened up for me

whispering sweet things and

promises that are easily broken

can i change back

shed knowledge for ignorance’s bliss

i can’t do that

Adam’s rib is in too deep

heat chases me across the plains

grazes my thighs, moist

the inside of a pomegranate

is that how i taste

The sky quakes with hate

as the All Mighty desecrates the landscape

out cast

lone harlot

He pushed me aside

to stay in It’s good graces.