homage to my hips
by Lucille Clifton
The Female Body, Dissected
With all the magic and power that Clifton is able to elicit by describing a woman's hips, we're a little scared to think about the strength she could unleash if she were to take on an entire body! This poem operates through the repetition of a single poetic technique: synecdoche. A synecdoche is a form of figurative language in which a part (hips) stands in for a whole (woman). Check it out:
- Lines 4-5: Sure, the speaker's hips may not fit in small chairs. More importantly, though, the speaker herself isn't willing to be trapped in a petty little understanding of who or what she is. She won't be contained by petty stereotypes.
- Lines 9-10: It's a bit hard to imagine the hips moving around without taking the rest of the woman along with them! Once again, our speaker's hips stand in for the whole person.
- Lines 14-15: Maybe it was just the sight of these magical hips which seduced a man, but we're betting that he was attracted to the whole package!