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Lucille Clifton: “i am accused of tending to the past”

I am accused of tending to the past

i am accused of tending to the past
as if i made it,
as if i sculpted it
with my own hands. i did not.
this past was waiting for me
when i came,
a monstrous unnamed baby,
and i with my mother’s itch
took it to breast
and named it
History.
she is more human now,
learning languages everyday,
remembering faces, names and dates.
when she is strong enough to travel
on her own, beware, she will.

in Lucille Clifton, Quilting: Poems 1987-1990, First Edition edition (Brockport, N.Y: BOA Editions Ltd., 2000).

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