Yesterday saw the passing of one of the great matriarchs of poetry, her voice so embedded in the history and landscape of this country that it is almost impossible to imagine it gone. How do you fill the space once occupied by a luminous giant? How do you describe an aching maw of silence with mere syllables? While I hope her soul finds rest, equally I hope her words never do. I hope she haunts us.
“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise..
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?..
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide..
Excerpts from “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou (1928-2014)