Welcome to Sunday Morning Lyricality, featuring a weekly song or poem by a Minnesota writer. Our current guest editor is Susan Thurston.

The amazing thing about gratitude is how it demands a personal relationship with each of us. We can’t look at someone else’s life and know for certainty about what they can be, should be, are grateful. Here Mary Moore Easter brings an attitude of gratitude as an offering to a woman who stepped out of history, surprised her with her courageous story that was nearly lost, and inspired her to declare her a space in which we can honor her.

Susan Thurston

In My Extremity
Mary Moore Easter

There you were, Eliza,
gold from God in plain sight.

No one had picked you up
wiped the muck from the landscape of your face.

Gold, I tell you, left for me to find,
to polish.  I won’t say to own–

we’ve had enough of that. 

I’m no colonizer of your shores,
no conqueror to whom you must submit,

rather, a mirror that reflects what it sees–
the you that was me, the background that was your time

the spaces surrounding you where I’d rummage
and find my own things.

Only grace could have offered  
this circumstance to me:

the overlooked coin of the realm, a prize
for the one who picks it up,

recognizes a value previously unimagined.
I feel anointed by the discovery of you

a realm at the beck and call of all that is fertile in me,
my feet untethered to walk your fields

climb the mountains
embossed under the black of your golden face.

The old folks would shout: Do! Jesus!


“In My Extremity” was previously published in The Christian Century and is included in Mary Moore Easter’s chapbook now available for presale from finishinglinepress.com–Free Papers: poems inspired by the testimony of Eliza Winston, a Mississippi slave who escaped to freedom in Minnesota in 1860. Mary Easter’s first poetry collection, The Body of the World was a finalist for the 2018 MN Book Award in Poetry. A Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and Cave Canem Fellow, Easter is widely published. She holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence and an M.A. from Goddard. She was founder and director of the dance program at Carleton College for decades, and has been awarded numerous awards for her poetry.