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Sunday, November 16, 2008


by Mary Saracino

“I will sing until the last day of my life.”
--Miriam Makeba

Mama Africa sang her final song on stage in Italy
her seizing heart snatched away the music

pata pata

for over 30 years Miriam Makeba lived in exile
banned from her African homeland

no longer a refugee, the cry for liberation still
riffed from her 75 year old tongue:
joy & sorrow, justice & jazz notes,
the syncopated solace of South African rhythms

death is not strong enough to silence her;
the whispering wind reminds us: the sins of apartheid
are the sins of the world; no nation is absolved

mourning shouts her name: Makeba!
sing loudly for freedom wherever you are;
choirs of angels greet her resplendent soul;
may her vision outlast her last breath;
on Earth, sorrowful voices pray:

pata pata

Mary Saracino is a novelist, poet and memoir-writer who lives in Denver , CO . Her most recent novel, The Singing of Swans (Pearlsong Press 2006) was a 2007 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist. Her short story, "Vicky's Secret" earned the 2007 Glass Woman Prize.