“ Sanctified mother” poured down the Baptist aisle, huge as love, her hand outstretched toward mine” she continues to describe the scene very poetically. “ Come on, baby, ” she smiled, then turned to address the church: “ she doesn’ t have to do nothing, she doesn’ t want to do” (On Strength Gotten from Others, a mini-biography – Lucille Clifton— www. math. buffallo. edu) she felt empowered and free. This incident of the childhood, remembered and retold by the poet, shows how important a person her mother was to her in life. In November 1984, her husband of almost 30 years died.
“ When I retreat into my room to just sit and stare or cry I can hear my mama speak through my four daughters ---“ She doesn’ t have to act strongly if she doesn’ t want to” (On Strength Gotten from Others ---- A mini-biography, Lucille Clifton – www. math. buffallo. edu) Her mother Thelma Sayles was a struggling woman, trying hard to bring up the family almost on her own. She was a launderer. She was a poet too and was the daughter’ s major source of inspiration. Though she had not completed elementary school, Thelma was very imaginative and a practitioner of the “ iambic verse” , that’ s the traditional English verse.
She naturally disagreed with her daughter’ s style of writing, which was not traditional. Her biographer, Mary Jane Lupton, recollects how Lucille mimicked her mother during a conversation, saying “ Baby, that ain’ t no poem. Let me show you how to write a poem” (Lucille Clifton--- Mary Jane Lupton --- page 13), Thelma, the mother was a beautiful woman, slightly plump and with thick hair who sat by the window smiling, according to Lucille’ s sister. Lucille remembers her “ sanctified mother” , one day, burning her own Poems.
“ An event that she was later to record in her poem “ Fury: for mama” : “ remember this… /the coals glistening like rubies/her hand is crying /her hand is clutching/a sheaf of papers/poems/she gives them up” ( Lucille Clifton - Mary Jane Lupton --- page 14 )
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