Poem for Nelson Mandela.
I expect everybody’s read enough Nelson Mandela poems by now, but here’s mine anyway...
“What’s it got to do with us?” refrained
my father when his boys
spurned the bottle of Cape Red plonk
he’d serve with Sunday roast. Despite how it stained,
he’d never grasp our umbrage at his choice,
but Nelson’s cell was like a sunken rock
to which our teenage optimism was chained.
There seemed no end back then to that regime.
We did what little we could:
refused the wine and fruit. How shocked
we’d be to learn our young utopian dreams
of ripping apart apartheid has come good.
I’ve walked up Table Mountain, seen people construct
a rainbow from the ashes of what’s been.
Because sometimes our most naive dreams come true.
The day I saw the man
walking free - more than free -
free to lead a government, I knew
collective will had smashed the apartheid plan,
had beaten our elders’ political apathy,
had beaten Thatcher, shackled to a view
that “Rainbow Nations” were nothing but contrivance,
decrying calls for sanctions
- the will of those with too much sense
to sanction a racist state with our connivance,
delighting in the truth that if your stance on
something’s fair and just, no guards, no fence,
no locks nor prison walls can keep it silenced.