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Blessing the Boats

January 17, 2017

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that.

–Lucille Clifton, 2001

COMMENTARY: The State of Maryland, I believe, commissioned Lucille Clifton to write this poem on the occasion of the launching of certain important boats. Usually poems commissioned for public occasions turn out stiff and awkward (think of inaugural poems), but this is, in my opinion, the post poem Clifton wrote–swift, flaring, tender and innocent. I love, in particularly, the surprising rhyme of “back” and “that” at the end.

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