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  • Lazarus
  • Lucille Clifton (bio)

Cave Canem: A Special Section

     first day

i rise from stiffening into a pin of light and a voice calling “Lazarus, this way” and i walk or rather swim in a river of sound toward what seems to be forever   i am almost almost there when i hear behind me “Lazarus, come forth” and i find myself swiveling in the light for this is the miracle Mary Martha, at my head and at my feet singing my name is the same voice

     second day

i am not the same man borne into the crypt.

as ones return from otherwhere altered by what they have seen,

so have i been forever.

lazarus. lazarus is dead.

what entered the light was one man what walked out is another. [End Page 981]

     third day

on the third day i remember what i was moving from what i was moving toward

light again and i could feel the seeds turning in the grass   mary martha i could feel the world

now i sit here on a crevice in this rock   stared at answering questions

sisters stand away from the door to my grave the only peace i know

Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton, Poet Laureate of the State of Maryland (1975–85), has received many fellowships and awards for her poetry collections and children’s books, including the Shelley Memorial Prize, a Charity Randall Citation, an Emmy Award from the American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, a selection as a 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 most recent book, The Terrible Stories, was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Lenore Marshall Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. Lucille Clifton is featured in Callaloo (22.1 [Winter 1999]).