One Day

One Day ~ Poems by Mamou Academy alumni, West Africa

I saw the stoic, faces grim, with tear tracks on their cheeks.
I saw the comfortable, silly grins pasted on silly faces.
I saw the meek, tender, eyes red and swollen.
"What is this?" I asked. "A wake?"

"Yes." I was told. "A celebration."
We wept for all the deaths, those present, 
and those still too dead to come celebrate.
We had all died, at one brief time, 
And had to become someone else to continue living.
We mourned the dead, and, embraced each new life.

I saw the badly wounded reach out with comfort they didn't know they had,
To those even more wounded.
I saw doctors and kings drinking of the common grief,
Being helped, even though they had come to help.
I saw the fires of a rage within
Quieted by a tear and an apology.

Each one thought they had died alone, with none to mourn their passing.
Sacrificed upon an altar of another's choosing.
The dying had gone slowly. It was eerily silent,
As tiny men and women marched undefended into terrible war.
Each weathered soldier brought a small souvenir to show the others,
A wound, scar or shell fragment.

As each tiny piece saw light, a miracle began to emerge-
Green leaves sprang from dead branches,
And fresh water from the bitter.
I bowed as One approached.
"Behold your Healer," He whispered.

Bob Neudorf, Mamou alumnus, 5/19/99
Written after the Mamou Alumni Retreat