Martin Robertson

Now and Then

Elegy for the Dead at Sharpeville

This woman, this child, this man;

and there; and here; these many in this dust

dead.  All these dead, and each, one,

dead in pain.  Think of these first.

So, in pain they fell.  But also as fall

sparks.  The wind blows against the fire

beating it down, and only blows it higher.

Sparks, wind-scattered wide, dropped on what’s thin

and dry, blaze against the wind again.

Mind shakes to see

how fighting wind and fire can absolutely

destroy themselves and all.

Sparks?  A martyr’s blood falls as seed,

and these, if not in will, are that in deed.

…  Fire… martyrdom…  Fine words.  Bend your mind back

to these whom white men shot for being black.

Life’s all one colour, spilled

beside whatever carcase in the dust.

As first, think of these last:

this man, this woman, this child.