I’m no poet. (In grad school, my attempt at poetry resulted in my being unironically called “the devil woman” by a heavily tattooed, heavily face-metaled guy.) My writing is strictly prose. But I do appreciate the skill of those who can tell the story and share a world though poetry. And I welcome the beauty of someone as talented as Ms. Angelou.
Not everyone can have lived the life Maya Angelou did. The abuses of her childhood that left her literally silent for years. The explosion of creative talent she released on many planes—on stage, by voice, in writing. The struggles of being a single mother. The travels to countries around globe. The accomplishments she achieved—and the accompanying anguish she felt—as part of the civil rights movement. Much of that life would have broken—or at least hobbled—other women. But that life is what created a legacy in Maya Angelou, in the work she leaves behind as well as in the words she didn’t have time to share.
And so, when I read that obit, I cried. And still today, I grieve the void her death consigns this world. I grieve the inspiration she provided. And I grieve the living who might never know her.
But I take heart in the endowment she entrusted to us. I take heart in her words and her truth and her insights. I take heart in the raw landscape of her verse. And, very simply, with hope, I remember.