Hello GCP‘ers! Yes, it has been a while, and while it is not actually Thursday, (let’s call it “Thursday Plus”) here is a lovely Thoughtful Thursday poem for you all, “Blessing the Boats” by the renowned African American poet Lucille Clifton (1936-2010). Born in Depew, New York in 1936, Clifton’s first book of poetry was published in 1969. She left a career in public service to devote herself full time to writing in 1971, at age 35, when she became a writer in residence at Coppin State College in Baltimore, Maryland.

Clifton was the author of several other collections of poetry, including Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988–2000 (BOA Editions, 2000), which won the National Book Award. She received many honors for her work including two Pulitzer Prize nominations, an Emmy, and the University of Massachusetts Press Juniper Prize.

In 1999, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She served as Poet Laureate for the State of Maryland from 1979 to 1985, and Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

“Blessing the Boats” speaks to us of transitions, both small and grand. It is a moving sendoff for a sailor, an inspirational wish for a graduate, an elegant elegy. Share it with your children, and may you all find what you need in it. Enjoy.

Blessing the Boats

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

Lucille Clifton