Heartbreak on the eve of Valentine’s Day, mother poet, Lucille Clifton passed yesterday morning. I learned the beautiful poet and good woman had gone on via text message, an appropriately simple: “We have lost Lucille.” The message came from a poet who loves her as much as I do. I feel fortunate for the loving source who understands and feels the weight of such news.
When someone dies, we tend to use euphemisms like “passing on,” “giving up the ghost”, etc. But one euphemism that is inapplicable to the death of Ms. Clifton is “no longer with us.” Lucille’s smile, bravery, fearlessness and willingness to make war with a tempered voice will never ever leave those who knew her, those who met her, those who heard her read, or read her powerhouse poems. I always smiled whenever I saw an image of her; She looks so much like my maternal grandmother with her perfect brown complexion, round head and low gray haircut common to cancer fighters and survivors.
My grandmother born a year after Ms. Lucille lost her battle with colon cancer over 10 years ago; I loved that Lucille was winning and fiercely alive and with us. So powerful was she when she wrote,
“Come let’s celebrate, that everyday something has tried to kill me and has failed.”
Alas, eventually, something does take over. We, who have loved her each for our own reasons, are all quieted by the loss of such a perfect spirit.
May you rest well, Mother Lucille. Your work here has been grand. Thank you with many, many tears and your bravery behind our pens.