Lucille Clifton: my dream about the second coming

Yesterday we look at WB Yeats’ “The Second Coming,” an imagined view of what the end of the world from the perspective of one just leaving the horrors of World War I. Today we’re going to take a look at a much more intimate view of that same event.

Lucille Clifton, much like Dickinson or Whitman, has the ability to take a seemingly simply moment and fill it full of some of the most complex ideas. Her “dream” is no exception, presenting a single scene yet evoking enough of the world’s strangeness to create a fascinating piece of work. It’s one that taps into that dreamlike sense the title suggests while ending with a sense of dread even Yeats would be impressed with.

my dream about the second coming

mary is an old woman without shoes.
she doesn’t believe it.
not when her belly starts to bubble
and leave the print of a finger where
no man touches.
not when the snow in her hair melts away.
not when the stranger she used to wait for
appears dressed in lights at her
kitchen table.
she is an old woman and
doesn’t believe it.


when Something drops onto her toes one night
she calls it a fox
but she feeds it.

Curious to see all of April’s fine poems? Check out the original National Poetry Month to see an update list!

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