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Poetry: Heritage (For Walter Leonard)

Graphic illustration of trees in forest

Landscape Inside You by Rebecca Chaperon

Poetry from Nikki Giovanni's new book, A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter 

The folk here 

Are old

There are wheel 

Chairs and people 


To push them

There are sad 

Eyed people looking 

Up from beds they 

Cannot stretch out


And some simply cannot 

Move their heads

All will become something precious 

Sapphires … Emeralds … Rubies which 

Will be discovered

By other explorers who 

Will polish and shape 

The stones

And we will wear them 

Never knowing 

Whose loved one

We have 


I am the first person in my family to be born in a hospital—so it’s easy to see how much I was teased. Yet there were things like Grandmother’s silver spoons or snuggling under MamaDear, Cornelia Watson’s (who was the first free child born of slave parents) quilt until it literally fell apart that let me know I, too, was a part of the family. I wear a ring that was given to me by a nun whom I dearly loved. I’ve had it since I was graduated from the 8th grade. I think about how all life-forms evolve and how important it is to remember that we, too, will keep changing. One day we will be discovered by another life-form. I can only hope they will feel the love of the love. That’s what my Heritage is. —Nikki Giovanni

“Heritage” is from the new book A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter by Nikki Giovanni. Copyright 2017 by Nikki Giovanni. Published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins. Reprinted by permission.

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