In the beginning

The first thing that strikes us about Lucille Clifton’s poetry is what is missing: capitalization, punctuation, long and plentiful lines. We see a poetry so pared down that its spaces take on substance, become a shaping presence as much as the words themselves.

“adam and eve”: without capital letters, our human ancestors look humbled, on the same plane as everything else in the poem’s world. It’s the world at the start of Genesis, the title indicates. And specifically, we can tell from the opening stanza, we humans are in the second creation account, where God gives Adam the power to name all the animals and birds.

 

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