By Lucille Clifton

people who are going to be
in a few years
bottoms of trees
bear a responsibility to something
besides people
                        if it was only
you and me
sharing the consequences
it would be different
it would be just
generations of men
this business of war
these war kinds of things
are erasing those natural
obedient generations
who ignored pride
                              stood on no hind legs
                              begged no water
                              stole no bread
did their own things

and the generations of rice
of coal
of grasshoppers

by their invisibility
denounce us

Lucille Clifton, “generations” from How to Carry Water: Selected Poems of Lucille Clifton. Copyright © 2020 by The Estate of Lucille Clifton. Reprinted by permission of The Permission Company LLC, on behalf of BOA Editions Ltd.