Praise Poem

by Pam Newham

The boy from Qunu is now an old man.
Once he ran swift as a spring-hare in the dry veld.
Once he ran sure as a klipspringer in the green hills.
Once he ran.

The boy from Qunu is now an old man.
Now he bends like a windswept tree.
Now his eyes are as misty as the hills of home.
Now he sits.

The boy from Qunu is now an old man.
How many steps are left in his long walk?
How can we pay the debt we owe?
How his frailty frightens us.

The boy from Qunu is now an old man.
We cannot help. We cannot make him young.
We envy those who still touch his hand.
We cannot make him stay.

The boy from Qunu is now an old man.
Look, our eyes are clear. They see ahead.
Look, our arms are young. Our legs are bold.
Look, we are strong.

The boy from Qunu is now an old man.
We will run for you. In the waiting years
we will carry you high. We will run for you, tata,
we will run!

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