I’m currently reading Mary Oliver’s “A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry”. It requires slow, careful reading. Every line is packed with an extraordinary amount of information.

In the section on Diction, Tone, Voice she includes this poem by Lucille Clifton [1936-2010] at page 78, ‘i am accused of tending to the past …

I’d love to hear what you think, your reactions, what feelings or memories the piece evokes …

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 language every day,
remembering faces, names and dates.
when she is strong enough to travel
on her own, beware, she will.

Publisher:  Mariner 9780156724005
ISBN: 978-0-15-672400-5

Other poems by Lucille Clifton