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Posts Tagged ‘Maya Angelou’

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice

Amanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb Inaugural Poem

These words from Amanda Gorman hit a nerve. As a white woman raised in the south in the 60’s and 70’s, Just Is was a part of the thread that wove the fabric of racism in our time. Echoes of that’s just the way it is rang through the school hallways I walked, the places we shopped, the neighborhood streets we rode. The only dark faces I saw were our maids and their children. 

Desegregation didn’t happen until I was in the 4th grade, 1971. I remember having no school for two weeks while the scramble to mix it up began. That was fun for us kids. When we returned to school, there were new faces, new teachers. My favorite was Miss Love. She was a large black woman with a great bosom for hugging you close. She gave us one of my favorite assignments, a state project. I chose Maine because the capital city is Augustus, my birthday month (of course!). I have never gone to Maine but have a special place for it in my heart because of Miss Love.

Change is easy for kids. Children don’t really know racism. I didn’t when I was ten. But now, in retrospect, I see more clearly how “just is” was not “justice.” I cannot change the past. None of us can. But we can do better when we know better, another famous quote from an African American hero– Maya Angelou.

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Join the Poetry Friday round-up with Diane over at Random Noodling.

Join the Poetry Friday round-up with Diane over at Random Noodling.

Photo from Maya Angelou visits YCP 2013 on Flickr

Photo from Maya Angelou visits YCP 2013 on Flickr

I suspect that Poetry Friday will be full of posts about Maya Angelou. She died this week at the age of 86. She was a gentle giant, a force in the world, an inspiration for us all. I spent the last few days absorbed in Maya’s wisdom, watching YouTube videos, reading articles, and reading her poetry. I was inspired to write a poem, an elegy. At first, I thought it would be created around her words, so I copied 13 quotes from USA Today. But when I started writing, the poem became my first sestina. Whoa, Maya, I didn’t think I had this in me. You are indeed an inspiration!

The Lessons of Maya
Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.

Her words touched many hearts,
this phenomenal woman
with volumes of work,
a head full of rhyming curls,
she made us feel
with her deep toned voice

speaking, “I will raise my voice!”
finger pointing to heaven’s heart,
she strived to thrive, feel
compassion of a passionate woman.
Her hand to my hand curls
around my calloused work

enveloped in her precious work.
She knew who heard her voice
above all others; her curls
were born to adorn our hearts.
Now with Him eternally, this woman
will always make us feel

that we have every right to feel
worthy in our daily work
living as a phenomenal woman
lifting this one and only voice
to touch as many hearts
as hairs on her head curl,

Like the contrail in the sky curls,
we are called to feel
no barriers in our hearts.
Our deep and strong voices
can make forces work
driven by this one woman.

Believe in your woman-
the specialness of your curls.
Believe you have a voice.
Don’t fear to feel.
Find your glorious work
and what feeds your soul and heart.

Find the voice of your heart.
Yes, God made woman his best work.
Make the time to feel
Alive.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

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