New poem: Father Maniba Shook My Hand

This is a poem I wrote to commemorate the extraordinary life of Nelson Mandela. I hope you will all like it:


Father Madiba shook my hand

He shook my hand,
and as a nine-year-old boy 
my immature mind
couldn’t fathom
the rough surfaces
that scraped and scabbed
the hand I touched.

This hand that held
the knowledge of law books
as sledge hammers
that slammed against
the great wall of apartheid.

This hand that embraced and guided
the African National Congress
to express in words
what was on their people’s hearts.
Their desire for freedom and self-determination
from unjust white domination.

This hand that was handcuffed
for lashing out against the brutal state.
This hand that was made to break limestone
in an effort to break his spirit
to no avail.
Because this hand was still strong and firm
when he grasped my hand
after twenty-seven years of holding cold metal prison bars.

I shook the hand
that crumbled the remnant of apartheid
and then molded from his country’s earth
a democracy that all his people
could thrive and prosper in.

I shook the hand
of the man
honored and admired worldwide.
Now as he rests in peace
I feel honored and blessed
that he chose to shake mine.

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