This is one of those beginnings where I’m both sure and unsure of what would happen to me. I know what I must do now, and I have a plan to do it, and yet it feels very much like I’m standing before a yawning abyss. Either I’m moving further forward towards the life I make, or I’m about to make a colossal mistake. It’s deliriously exciting and terrifying.

Maybe all I can do at this point is forgive myself for what I’m about to do and what I will be unable to do, as the days come.

I mean, that’s all the self is asking, right? To be loved and to be forgiven, and to be brave. The bravest I can be.

Happy new year.

i am running into a new year
Lucille Clifton

i am running into a new year
and the old years blow back
like a wind
that i catch in my hair
like strong fingers like
all my old promises and
it will be hard to let go
of what i said to myself
about myself
when i was sixteen and
twenty-six and thirty-six
even thirty-six but
i am running into a new year
and i beg what i love and
i leave to forgive me

Hope is that stubborn thing inside us*—when I heard that today, I thought, how could one thing be so true?

Two months ago I was staring at what was left of all of me. I was so exhausted to go on. I said, Nothing brings me joy. I said, I can’t see the future anymore. I said, All of me is sad and wretched. I said, So much a fool.

And yet I’m breathing, now. I’m stronger, now.

Everywhere around me lives are starting again. Isn’t it funny and wonderful how we know nothing of what goes on with one another and yet somehow, in this space, it is as if I have been a witness to your pain and suffering, as much as you have been to mine? And now we are rising from the ashes or washing up on the shore. And now we are getting up after being beaten or blooming slowly, with the face turned towards the sun.

This is joy. Here it is: this tiny thing. Let us share it:

Won’t You Celebrate With Me
Lucille Clifton

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my one hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

We come to an end and then we begin again. We die and we break then we pick ourselves up and we take a few steps. Tentatively. One after the other. Again. Again.

11:42 pm. Took a photo of the bone-coloured moon. Saw a tiny little star. I thought of the Little Prince. Ah, but I am a fox, still waiting to be tamed.

Lucille Clifton

whatever slid into my mother’s room that
late june night, tapping her great belly,
summoned me out roundheaded and unsmiling.
is this the moon, my father used to grin.
cradling me? it was the moon
but nobody knew it then.

the moon understands dark places.
the moon has secrets of her own.
she holds what light she can.

we girls were ten years old and giggling
in our hand-me-downs. we wanted breasts,
pretended that we had them, tissued
our undershirts. jay johnson is teaching
me to french kiss, ella bragged, who
is teaching you? how do you say; my father?

the moon is queen of everything.
she rules the oceans, rivers, rain.
when I am asked whose tears these are
I always blame the moon.

Because the year has come to an end, and I am sitting at my desk trying to reconcile the old with the new. Another beginning, starting today. But first, a proper farewell to the year that was:

To My Last Period
Lucille Clifton

well, girl, goodbye,
after thirty-eight years.
thirty-eight years and you
never arrived
splendid in your red dress
without trouble for me
somewhere, somehow.

now it is done,
and i feel just like the
grandmothers who,
after the hussy has gone,
sit holding her photograph
and sighing, wasn’t she
beautiful? wasn’t she beautiful?


Homage to My Hips
Lucille Clifton

these hips are big hips.
they need space to
move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top