She cried out for Mama, who did not
hear. She left with a wild eye thrown back,
she left with curses, rage
that withered her features to a hag’s.
No one can tell a mother how to act:
there are no laws when laws are broken, no names
to call upon. Some say there’s nourishment for pain,
and call it Phlilosophy.
That’s for the birds, vulture and hawk,
the large ones who praise
the miracle of flight because
they use it so diligently.
She left us singing in the field, oblivious
to all but the ache of our own bent backs. (Mother Love.1995)
Rita Dove is the first African American poet laureate of the United States (1993-1995) and the first African American since Gwendolyn Brooks to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry (for her third compilation, Thomas and Beulah). She was born in 1952 in Akron, Ohio and began writing stories and plays at an early age. In 1970, she was invited to the White House as a Presidential Scholar, a merit bestowed upon the top one hundred high school seniors in the nation. She graduated Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and did some graduate work in West Germany and earned her M.F.A. at the University of Iowa. Her published work includes eight volumes of poems, a book of short stories, a book of essays, a novel and a play (which has been produced at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.) She is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA.
(Info from: Norton Anthology, Rita Dove’s personal web site)