! A Zimbabwean Asks A Question - Poem by Michael Shepherd
O Great Spirit,
You who in Your form of the Chapungu,
the great eagle with sharper eye than any aeroplane,
watches over us and knows all things;
who even descends from your great circles of flight
over our beautiful land of stone and earth and tree
to show a child lost in the bush
the way back to the village and to home,
please show us, too, the way back home, to You.
You know I talk to you each day in my heart,
but today a man has asked me to speak some words
that many people may hear.
So I speak for Zimbabwe, and for the Africa
of which we are so proud:
for we in Africa are proud; and proud for You:
that in a mad and busy world, we have not forgotten
that every blade of grass and flower,
lizard, singing bird, lion, elephant,
are You in all your great disguises
and that all that we see around us
is You in the spirits of our ancestors
who listen to us and guide us;
and so we know that we must listen
to every creature to hear news of You...
and in the evening of each day
(which, we cannot now forget, may be our last)
as the men come home from work
and the women and children back from the fields,
and the smoke from the evening fires
rises above the huts,
and the smells of cooking fill the air,
we tell all our children round the fire
the truth about You
in all the tales our fathers and grandfathers have told us -
told to these children who have so recently come from You;
by those grandparents who will so soon come back to You;
they have so much to share and listen to,
And would you not agree, O Great Spirit,
that the smile of an African child
is the biggest thing you ever saw - or made?
It reminds every mother and father of Your smile,
and tells every grandparent what is in store for them...
So we rejoice to think, O Great Spirit,
that we are still your children,
and that You know what is best for us -
And so I ask you, especially today, O Great Spirit,
for all who may read this:
Are the spirits angry with us?
If they are, please tell me why?
And so, what can we do to stay close to You?
Many men have many answers to these questions
in the reasoning of men;
but nothing from men quite seems to 'do the trick';
so now, I'm simply asking You
to speak in Your own way;
since nothing from men quite seems to 'do the trick';
and, O Great Spirit,
it is Your world, which we look after, and not ours...
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