the time i dropped your almost body down
down to meet the waters under the city
and run one with the sewage to the sea
what did i know about waters rushing back
what did i know about drowning
or being drowned

you would have been born in winter
in the year of the disconnected gas
and no car
we would have made the thin walk
over the genecy hill into the canada winds
to let you slip into a stranger’s hands
if you were here i could tell you
these and some other things

and if i am ever less than a mountain
for your definite brothers and sisters
let the rivers wash over my head
let the sea take me for a spiller of seas
let black men call me stranger always
for your never named sake

Analysis, meaning and summary of Lucille Clifton's poem the lost baby poem


  1. Reader says:

    Did not like how opinionated about abortions this “analysis” was, awful.

  2. Anonymous says:


  3. Aaliyah says:

    “Yo! This poem is throw’d OFF! I been researching this chick and she has got a lot of “big things poppin” but she is pretty crazy in my opinion!”

    “This poem is crazy! I have been researching the author and she has received high honors in her poetic career but in my opinion, she’s crazy!”

    I don’t know her like my momma but I am glad that i don’t because if i would have been one of her kids i might have been aborted!

    When does a woman take abortion too far? When is it inhumane?

    In the case of Ms. Lucille, I got this gut inclination that out of the 6 kids that remained, a whole bunch of them didn’t make it. The girl started talkin’ bout shovin hangers insider her like old school 3rd world countries in an earlier poem that she wrote called ” Blessing the Boat” The lady is aborting these “almost” bodies. By any means I assume. So she gets pregnant in the poem and decides to ditch the kid like the 17-year old prom date from Hell. In this poem she decided to drown the ‘almost’ body that she may or may not have ripped out with a hanger.

    Her reason for this cruel and unusual punishment in the poem is less complex than the real possible reason(s). But in the poem she likes to (what I call) “blaim it on the rain” She begins to whine about what she doesn’t have, a car, a coat, lights in the cold of a Canadian winter. Do you have pity? Empathy?

    Well I don’t! I have been there and done that but what I have not experienced is the hurt that could hurt a woman so deeply by a man that would make a woman feel compelled to rip up the walls of her uterus and tear off that which is feeding off of it’s nourishment.

    I ask myself a worse case scenario question and wonder what would feel worse than ripping a child out of my uterus? I answer, ” probably having an old creepy family member thrust himself inside said uterus”. So it makes me curious to know if that is the reason that this woman has chosen to terminates this baby’s life. It sucks that people are rippin’ kids all out of their uterus’ all Willy Nilly compared to all the couples trying to have just one.

    Well Lucille Clifton was blessed with 6. How they are doing today? I am not sure. If any of you read this article I would love to talk to you about your family.

    So she sends the baby down the ‘Hudson’, and she’s wants to explain to you why she did it. Like I said her excuses were weak but she ends in her last attempts to baffle her readers on her exact reasons why. It is interesting because it appears to me that she is saying some sort of ceremonial chant in the end. She says that if she is anything less than a mountain to the other brothers and sisters the decapitated fetus would have had if she chosen to bring it into the world, she will understand why she is being killed. Or punished or taken away from the world.

    This poem is weird, suicidal, filled with sin and a brief horror. The most insane part of the poem to me, is the end where her little chant that she does to the spirit Gods still involves black men. Why not deal with this issue when you was giving us reasons that you aborted the child in such a savage way. Is the black man that created the child the real root and the reason that she doesn’t even want to see the child’s face form in his father’s likeness?

    If I am correct this is pathetic. Her poem is quite interesting but I am through because as a black woman that has been through her share of life’s problems, I say Keep Mashin’! Keep Pushing! Thank GOD for every blessing you receive and like my momma used to say “your children are your rice”.

    {become familiar with slang and you can read almost anythang!}

    • isabel says:

      this poem is about a woman who cant afford to support a baby, and thusly makes the responsible decision to terminate the pregnancy in order to save that life from inadequate care. Lucille Clifton was a christian woman, and you can see that in all of her poetry, and this termination ruined her. that’s what the poem is about: the guilt. the last stanza of this poem is swearing to her unborn child that she will be strong for the others. The rivers are heavy with African symbolism that ties back to Langston Hughes that i’ve yet to fully detangle, but she literally says that she would drown just like her baby if she failed as a mother so clearly she cares and has empathy. another clear thing is how little you understand how actual abortions work, she uses the sewage metaphor because where natural water has ties to death, man made water systems have to do with man made death. she didn’t literally flush her baby down the toilet, she got an abortion. you are tearing down women for getting abortions by any means necessary, but those gruesome acts only happen when women don’t have access to adequate healthcare and safe abortions. this comment you have left is ignorant and pitiful, its full of misplaced assumptions and baseless claims and its a disgrace to whatever good advice your mom was trying to give you. -xoxox Isabel (educate yourself and you can read anything)

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