Explication of “Homage to My Hips” by Lucille Clifton
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
“they”/”these” – I think that Clifton uses these pronouns to describe her hips (rather than saying “my hips”) in order to separate her hips from herself. In her poem, she talks about how her hips are “free hips” and “don’t like to be enslaved.” By using “they” and “them” when referring to her hips, she makes it seem as if they have a mind of their own and aren’t controlled by her.
“want” – by using this word, she conveys a similar message as she did from using “they/them.” Most people would think of hips as just a part of the body that is controlled by the brain, but Clifton wants to make the message that her hips are free-willed and have their own agenda.
“mighty” – not only does she want the reader to know that her hips act on their own accord, but she also wants them to know the “mighty” air that they carry. She described her hips as “big” at the beginning of the poem, but here her use of “mighty” can have two meanings: that her hips are physically large and that they possess some kind of greatness or something impressive.