Monday, July 1, 2013

I Was So Young When Nelson Mandela Was Dying

I was so young when Nelson
Mandela was dying – weren’t
we all?  Decade after decade
time passed and how strange
it must have been – to be man
and icon at once – how is that
skin inhabited?  Housed?
Defined?  Imprisoned?

Now Nelson Mandela is dying,
this time in earnest.

And a friend starts a FB group
of those of us who worked
and laughed and played and
fought together lo those many
years ago in ordinary time –
who can even remember the
80's?  I know I was there –
but they are truly
a blur in my memory now –
and he posts pictures – and I
look and am struck – as I always
am these days – by how very
achingly young we were –
we who knew so much that we
held the world carelessly in
our hands – living our blessed
lives in the far away from Africa
place that is West Virginia –
we laughed and worked and
played and fought as Nelson sat
and sat and sat – and who
could know then that freedom would
be his?  That leading the country
he begged to change would be his?
It never does to count too much on
things staying the same, for they
never do – a good thing, that –

and now it is a millenium later
and Nelson Mandela is dying
and I wonder if he was ever young
in that laughing, working, playing,
fighting kind of way that I was – so
unaware – I doubt it – it was a luxury
he was not accorded – that unawareness
and he, I think, was the better for it, the
one to be envied – ah, Desmond, what
will we do without him?

I was so, so young when Nelson
Mandela was dying.

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