Poem: Gwendolyn Brooks, ‘The Rites for Cousin Vit’

Even now she does the snake-hips with a hiss,
Slops the bad wine across her shantung, talks
Of pregnancy, guitars and bridgework, walks
In parks or alleys, comes haply on the verge
Of happiness, haply hysterics. Is.

Read the poem here, ‘The Rites for Cousin Vit

Gwendolyn Brookes (1917 – 2000) was an African American poet who published over 20 books of poetry and won the Pulitzer Prize.

This sonnet is one of my all-time favourite poems.  I demonstrates poetry’s ability to express thoughts and feelings that just can’t be as well expressed through any other medium.  It expresses Cousin Vit’s energy and the effect she had on other people in such a way that I don’t think any other kind of writing could contain her. The poem doesn’t contain her, perhaps that’s the point; it sets her on the loose again.