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midnight we slip into her room and fill her pockets with stones so that she is weighted down so that storms cannot move her she disappears for hours then staggers back smelling of straw of animal perhaps we have lost her perhaps home is no longer comfort or comfort no longer home evenings we sit awake in our disenchanted kitchen listening to the dog whine to dorothy clicking her heels

Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton, Poet Laureate of the State of Maryland (1975–85), was recently awarded the National Book Award for her Blessing the Boats (2000). For her numerous books of poetry she has received many fellowships and awards, including the Shelly Memorial Prize, a Charity Randall Citation, an Emmy Award from the American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, a selection as Literary Lion by the New York Public Library, a Lannan Achievement Award in Poetry, and the 1999 Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Writers Award. She serves on the board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets and was recently elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts. Her poetry collection, The Terrible Stories, was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Lenore Marshall Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Award.


Reprinted from Mercy (Boa Editions, 2004) by permission of the author.