I met Maya Angelou twice; first, at the Clinton Inauguration, Brian Gaul and I stood among about 10,000 others, several hundred yards from the action, “marked the mastodon” creeping through our eardrums, penetrating our senses after a while.
The second time my then girlfriend and I discovered her at the bar of the Four Seasons in Philadelphia (at 18th and Benjamin Franklin Parkway) and we chatted her up only long enough to express our respect; maybe I said, like I am doing here, I claimed, that I was there “On the Pulse of Morning.”
This is how it goes:
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon,
The dinosaur, who left dried tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow,
I will give you no hiding place down here.
No kidding, sister.