by Ginger Murchison
For Lucille Clifton
at the Dodge Poetry Festival, 1998
Black is a long color.
You must have seen it first
in creases in your infant fingers,
in your reach for definition
in Thelma, Lucy, Ca'line: daughters
of Dahomey, then again
when harsher fingers redefined you,
Drew lines, black and white, limitations you refused,
so you made her up: Lucille,
not black, but human:
I heard you bold,
ashamed my fingers had never folded
into a fist, that I had nothing
At side-by-side bathroom sinks,
we wash our hands. In my mirror
is a plain white circle that fades
onto a plain white page; in yours,
eyes deep in black awareness.
The soap-foam leaves my fingers
white, but yours, black
enough to write words with edges
that leave us breathless.
Ginger Murchison began writing poetry in 1997. She is published so far in several small-press print magazines, online in Moondance and The WolfHead Quarterly, and 6 anthologies, the latest of which, Intimate Kisses:The Poetry of Sexual Pleasure, published by New World Library, is due to be released in February, 2001. Married and the mother of two, Ginger divides her time between homes in both Atlanta and Sanibel Island, Florida. She is Assistant Managing Editor of The Cortland Review.
E-mail Ginger Murchison at