midnight we slip into her room
and fill her pockets with stones
so that she is weighted down
so that storms cannot move her

she disappears for hours
then staggers back smelling of straw
of animal

perhaps we have lost her
perhaps home is no longer comfort
or comfort no longer home

evenings we sit awake in
our disenchanted kitchen
listening to the dog whine
to dorothy clicking her heels

—Lucille Clifton, “After Oz”

when you lie awake in the evenings
counting your birthdays
turn the blood that clots on your tongue
into poems. poems.

—Lucille Clifton, from “The Message of Thelma Sayles” 

I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, he say, the more I love.

—Alice Walker, The Color Purple

But one day when I was sitting quiet and feeling like a motherless child, which I was, it come to me: that feeling of being part of everything, not separate at all. I knew that if I cut a tree, my arm would bleed. And I laughed and I cried and I run all around the house. I knew just what it was.

—Alice Walker, The Color Purple

I feel nothing
but pain for the past
trying to separate
like old clothes
crumbling in a chest
what does not last
from what I can keep
trying to understand
how I fell
so short of what I intended
to do with my life.
How life twists and turns
against us. How a childhood
is not really understood
until it is lived
a second time
in memory.
How wonderful
and how terrible
it seems now
because it is gone
and because it was mine.

—Sarah Brown Weitzman, from “Looking Back" (via mitochondria)

Everything is plundered, betrayed, sold.
Death’s great black wing scrapes the air,
Misery gnaws to the bone.
Why then do we not despair?

By day, from the surrounding woods,
cherries blow summer into town;
at night the deep transparent skies
glitter with new galaxies.

And the miraculous comes so close
to the ruined dirty houses—
something not known to anyone at all
But wild in our breast for centuries.

—Anna Akhmatova, “Everything is Plundered, Betrayed, Sold" (translated by Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward)