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On the Wings of a Dove
(For Rita Dove, U.S. Poet Laureate, 1992)
by Michael Escoubas

Was it your father,
the first African-American
chemist in the tire industry,
who first gave you wings?

Was it your Shakespeare—
quoting mother who kept
her book shelves full and said,
Read, read, read?

Perhaps you began
to catch an updraft
when your high school teacher
took you to hear John Ciardi read.

No matter—when you
wrote, The Rabbit with
the Droopy Ear,
at age ten,
no nest could hold you.

After hearing Ciardi
you knew that poets
were real people with
needs, hopes and dreams.

You also learned that
poetry is about truth.
You flew on wings of truth
spread wide by Langston Hughes,

Gwendolyn Brooks and James Wright.
You soared as the youngest
Poet Laurette and second
African-American to win

the Pulitzer Prize—
you've been a feather
dancing on the bright sky
ever since you closed out

your first poem, powerful
in its simplicity. Who might be
the next young poet to ride
on the wings of Rita Dove?

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