"Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages" -Thomas A. Edison

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Elizabeth Alexander

Barack Obama has chosen Ms. Alexander to be 'the poet' at his inauguration.  I struggle for words to describe'll let her speak for herself.

A Poem for Nelson Mandela by Elizabeth Alexander

Here where I live it is Sunday.

From my room I hear black

children playing between houses

and the El at a Sabbath rattle.

I smell barbecue from every direction

and hear black hands tolling church bells,

hear wind hissing through elm trees

through dry grasses

                                    On a rooftop of a prison

in South Africa Nelson Mandela

tends garden and has a birthday,

as my Jamaican grandfather in Harlem, New York

raises tomatoes and turns ninety-one.

I have taken touch for granted: my grandfather’s hands,

his shoulders, his pajamas which smell of vitamin pills.

I have taken a lover’s touch for granted,

recall my lover’s touch from this morning

as Mandela’s wife pulls memories through years

and years

             my life is black and filled with fortune.

Nelson Mandela is with me because I believe

in symbols; symbols bear power; symbols demand

power; and that is how a nation

follows a man who leads from prison

and cannot speak to them. Nelson Mandela

is with me because I am a black girl

who honors her elders, who loves

her grandfather, who is a black daughter

as Mandela’s daughters are black

daughters. This is Philadelphia

and I see this Sunday clean.


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