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Shapeshifter poems by Lucille Clifton

By June 2, 2013Blog


the legend is whispered

in the women’s tent

how the moon when she rises


follows some men into themselves

and changes them there

the season is short

but dreadful   shapeshifters

they wear strange hands

they walk through the houses

at night   their daughters

do not know them



who is there to protect her

from the hands of the father

not the windows which see and

say nothing   no the moon

that awful eye   not the woman

she will become with her

scarred tongue   who   who   who   the owl

laments into the evening   who

will protect her   this   prettylittlegirl



if the little girl lies

still enough

shut enough

hard enough

shapeshifter may not

walk tonight

the full moon may not

find him here

the hair on him






the poem at the end of the world

is the poem the little girl breathes

into her pillow   the one

she cannot tell   the one

there is no one to hear   this poem

is a political poem   is a war poem   is a

universal poem but is not about

these things   this poem

is about one human heart   this poem

is the poem at the end of the world