the river between us

By Lucille Clifton

in the river that your father fished
my father was baptized. it was
their hunger that defined them,

one, a man who knew he could
feed himself if it all came down,
the other a man who knew he needed help.

this is about more than color. it is
about how we learn to see ourselves.
it is about geography and memory.

it is about being poor people
in america. it is about my father
and yours and you and me and
the river that is between us.


Lucille Clifton, “the river between us” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2004 by Lucille Clifton. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd., All rights reserved.