A Note from Mel

Make the connection…

Ms. Lucille February 14, 2010

Filed under: People in the World of Art — anotefrommel @ 4:35 am
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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.

Lucille Clifton

My Maternal Grandmother

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.


January 8, 2009

Filed under: Art & Children,Art - The Process,Artist Moms — anotefrommel @ 4:43 pm
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Dark Stars over DC


Eyes fall

Lash-skirted lids

Cheeks catch dark shadows

Of a goodbye

A final witnessed breath


Steal his love away

It slips out of a quiet house

Heavy knees, coward feet

Press pedal of an    unloaded—

An unloaded vehicle,

Deficient of all his belongings.


© 2009, Melanie Henderson


Lorde, mothers and sons. October 15, 2008

I’ve heard it said before (that being a mother changes you). I just never understood how so or how much until I became one one December afternoon in 2006. Those who know me and my baby boy know that he arrived about 8 months after this on a temperate July evening. But, I was a mom almost immediately; Not because I was bearing him, but because I almost immediately began to internalize what being a mom entailed for me and my baby. At first, an absolute and complete state of puzzlement encapsulated me for no longer than two days; Immediately after, a constant peace set in, a knowing from a place I could not name or locate.

Almost 15 months later after his physical arrival to this place, this constancy has remained, sort of like an axis on which my life as a mother spins steadily, however, fast or slow.

Some constants: my overwhelming determination to preserve, protect, educate, enjoy the Black male I bore. The feeling which benefits from, but gains no essential value from knowledge/the mind, can only be described as fierce.

Fiercely, I love him. Fiercely, I protect him. Fiercely, there are no conditions.

I know the day will come where protector will no longer be my role. Many things, he will have to learn on his own. Some things are not in my power to teach him. However, I am empowered by Audre Lorde ‘s essay, Man Child: A Black Lesbian Feminist’s Response in Sister Outsider :

“I wish to raise a Black man who will not be destroyed by, nor settle for those corruptions called power by the white fathers who mean his destruction as surely as they mean mine. I wish to raise a Black man who will rcognize that the legitimate objects of his hostility are not women, but the particulars of a structure that programs him to fear and despise women as well as his own Black self. For me (Audre Lorde), this task begins with teaching my son that I do not exist to do his feeling for him.”

I do not exist to do his feeling for him. First I think of course not. But then I think how not? An immediate conflict of feelings. A feeling to embrace, a feeling to develop until his manhood, a feeling to let diminish for his benefit.

This journey, the practice of diminishing in tandem with large ties, bonds, care, is just beginning for my son and I. This life comes through us (mothers) and has nothing to do with the mind.
So much we teach them. But how much more they teach us. How joyful and painstaking is this road.

Lord, Lorde , have mercy. Give me the strength to bear his smiles.