Pantoum With Lines From Lucille Clifton’s Memoir

by Angela Narciso Torres

It’s a long time after, and I just wanted to know.
What was it like on the boat?
I wonder what became of our Mama?
And they would just rock and rock.

What was it like on the boat?
Oh slavery, slavery, my Daddy would say.
And they would just rock and rock.
Even the good parts was awful.

Oh slavery, slavery, my Daddy would say.
In history, even the lies are true.
Even the good parts was awful.
She walked from New Orleans to Virginia. Eight years old.

In history, even the lies are true.
Slavery was terrible but we fooled them.
She walked from New Orleans to Virginia. Eight years old.
We come out of it better than they did.

Slavery was terrible but we fooled them.
Don’t let nobody tell you them old people was dumb.
We come out of it better than they did.
Things don’t fall apart. Things hold.

Don’t let nobody tell you them old people was dumb.
Our lives are more than the days in them.
Things don’t fall apart. Things hold.
I only wanted to find out about these things.

Our lives are more than the days in them.
I wonder what became of our Mama?
I only wanted to find out about these things.
It’s a long after, and I just wanted to know.

_______

Angela Narciso Torres is the author of Blood Orange (Willow Books). Her work appears or is forthcoming in Poetry, Quarterly West, Missouri Review, Cortland Review, and PANK. A graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA program and Harvard Graduate School of Education, Angela has received fellowships from Bread Loaf and Ragdale Foundation. She received first place in the 2019 Yeats Poetry Prize (W.B. Yeats Society of New York). Born in Brooklyn and raised in Manila, she is a senior and reviews editor for RHINO and reads for New England Review

 

Artwork: “Reaching,” by Jeff Kallet

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