This poem kept Nelson Mandela going. It keeps me going too.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud,
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
~ William Ernest Henley
I love to get lost in the labyrinths of your mind,
Weaving this and this way
And that and that way along your contours,
Holding you and losing myself in your darkness,
Holding you and feeling you tear through me,
Leaving me bleeding and naked.
Then you stop and my wounds heal,
Then I start and rip myself open again.
Sweet agony sweet.
My father is a teacher of English. I picked up my reading from him, on top of all the other things sons pick from their fathers. I’m often told we’re alike. I shudder at the thought. Youthful vanity cannot yet let me accept that indeed we may be (that adage about growing up into your parents may have a morsel of truth.) On one recent Thursday night we played Scrabble, him, my youngest sister and me. Loser(s) buys lunch. So, geared up I was for a burger sometime in the week (I’ve never lost Scrabble to my family. This is an invitation for you to come kick my arse, please), and the rule changed: winner buys lunch (hawa watu wangu lazima ukae radar nao.) Yet, when all things are considered everyone comes out a winner: we spend time together enjoying each other’s company, we laugh and my sister learns new words. And, perhaps, it’s my father and his wife, who also happens to be our mum, who are the biggest winners. I can say we didn’t out too bad because of them.
If You Forget Me ~ Pablo Neruda
You make me insecure and unsure of myself. I weigh everything I do and say with you for fear that you may frown and squint in apprehension. Or worse, go silent. My demons have grown quite fond of your demons. My rough edges, affectionate to your jaggedness. I don’t like that I don’t like you. I hate this feeling.
I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees. ~ Pablo Neruda
I like you, but I feel that I don’t know how to like you. I fear in my liking you I may push you away, I may like you away
. I sit fidgeting for you to like me back so that I know I’m not crazy. I wait for you to reach out, show me that this is mutual, that I’m not daydreaming. I hate waiting, so I reach out first, and jealously savor each moment of our interactions, because I like you
I gaze longingly at my phone, willing it to ring, a call from you, a message, something. It doesn’t. It’s just Mum reminding me to get her her meds. It’s Papa asking me if I still have those marking schemes and can I get him a copy of each! Thanks! It’s her, asking for help with her computer. I’m miffed. Because I like you. And it feels so good.
Today I went to pay my youngest sister’s school fees. I found her there, like I do every time, patiently going about her business (she’s the accountant/ administrator.) She’s there year in, year out. I went to the same primary school as my sister years ago, and when I was there, she was also there. I found her there. I left her there. I always leave her there. Her name is Eucabeth. Always with a ready smile, a certain halo hangs about her, like just by being herself, unspeaking, she’s saying, “Welcome back home.” I get the impression she’s there because she wants to be, not for lack of options. It’s a choice that she, I gather, has not made lightly. How many of us can muster that kind of commitment (to use a simple single word to try and capture it all)? To believe in something so strongly that you’d literally give your life to it? One could argue that only the lazy and unambitious could stick with one gig for that long (going on about twenty years now, and then some, perhaps.) Our current pop culture ridicules the idea of commitment. Relationships, especially for men I find, bear a significant heaviness of this idea. You aren’t living, man! if you aren’t shagging half the girls in town. Commitment is for pussies. I digress. That moment got me thinking: could there be a nobility, a serenity in committing to doing something, one thing, to make the choice to build and nurture it, painstakingly, unendingly, everyday for the rest of your life? Yes, there could be a point to it.