Marcella Hammer

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
is dying. I imagine
it’s less painful than

my father gasping
at the end, but no, I know.
He can get better

we all think until—.
You’ll stay there, the room he dies
In. YOU don’t come back.

We listen, watch for
omens, tell hero stories
most, imagine lungs

new in Nelson’s chest
like a rescue unicorn
on a tidal wave.

I hope it’s more like
you are who you influence—
My dad said that once.

He’s dead and Nelson,
he’s suffering like I hope
you never witness.

Somewhere, plans are made
Or will be. The news broke
that he’s in a state.

There’s a weight to it—
oxygen, breathing. Such weight,
we can’t let him know.

Scroll to top