"Black as I am" by Obediah Michael Smith

Updated: Feb 7, 2021


[Zindsi Mandela,

23 December 1960

to 13 July 2020]

how like a plant she was

how just planted she was

when, in 1978, her book of poems,

Black as I am, was published

with photographs by Peter Magubane,

Foreword to it by Andrew Young

used to carry her book of poems, 8.5 x 11 Inches,

about with me everywhere I went

used to teach it, used to share it with my classes

recall having it while I taught

at Inagua All-Age School for two terms, in 1986

when exactly did I buy it/from where did I buy it

might I have purchased it from the bookstore

at Fisk University that I attended for a year

I loved those poems, I loved the author of them,

I loved the photographs that accompanied her poems

how I identified with the voice of that young,

female, South African, freedom fighter

somehow, all those years, I kept her as young

as she was when she penned the poems in her book

decades passed without a word about her or out of her

I myself a poet, unable to be quiet, unable to shut up

in the interim, she had grown up, mother with children,