Today, I am sharing Bedspread, Lorna Goodison's well-known poem about the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela. I did notice that a number of my blog readers appeared to be searching for this poem, and I thought I would share it, particularly since this is poetry month. I hope you will enjoy it. For more on Lorna Goodison and her work, please see my previous posts.
Sometimes in the still
when the memories crowded
hot and hopeless against
she would seek its cool colors
and signal him to lie down
in his cell.
It is three in the afternoon Nelson
let us rest here together
upon this bank draped in freedom
It was woven by women with slender
accustomed to binding wounds,
hands that closed the eyes of
that fought for the right to
speak in their own tongues
in their own land
in their own schools.
They wove the bedspread
and knotted notes of hope
in each strand
and selvaged the edges with
older than any white man's coming.
So in the afternoons lying on this
bright bank of blessing
Nelson my husband I meet you in dreams
my beloved much of the world too is
asleep blind to the tyranny and evil
devouring our people.
But, Mandela, you are rock on this sand
harder than any metal
mined in the bowels of this land
you are purer than any
gold tempered by fire
shall we lie here wrapped
in the colors of our free Azania?
They arrested the bedspread.
They and their friends are working
to arrest the dreams in our heads
and the women, accustomed to closing
the eyes of the dead
are weaving cloths still brighter
to drape us in glory in a Free
(From Selected Poems, The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 1992)
Copyright Lorna Goodison. Reprinted with the author's permission.