I am interrupting my current post-in-progress to pay homage to Dr. Maya Angelou, who left us today after eighty-six extraordinary years. Today, many in the MJ fan community have been tweeting her beautiful poem that she wrote in tribute to Michael for his 2009 memorial. Maya Angelou did not attend Michael’s memorial service, but the powerful poem that she wrote in tribute was recited to the world by Queen Latifah. However, in 2010 Angelou became a dot in the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait (she is one the dots close to his heart) and, during that session, recorded her only public reading of the poem.
Five years is a long time, and sometimes memories can be short. Seeing this poem retweeted over and over brought it all back, the pain and overwhelming sense of loss as we-a global community in mourning-struggled to make sense of our loss. In that time, Angelou did what all great poets do. She knew just the right words to say.
Beloveds, now we know that we know nothing
Now that our bright and shining star can slip away from our fingertips like a puff of summer wind
Without notice, our dear love can escape our doting embrace
Sing our songs among the stars and and walk our dances across the face of the moon
In the instant we learn that Michael is gone we know nothing
No clocks can tell our time and no oceans can rush our tides
With the abrupt absence of our treasure
Though we our many, each of us is achingly alone
Only when we confess our confusion can we remember that he was a gift to us and we did have him
He came to us from the Creator, trailing creativity in abundance
Despite the anguish of life he was sheathed in mother love and family love and survived and did more than that
He thrived with passion and compassion, humor and style
We had him
Whether we knew who he was or did not know, he was ours and we were his
We had him
Beautiful, delighting our eyes
He raked his hat slant over his brow and took a pose on his toes for all of us and we laughed and stomped our feet for him
We were enchanted with his passion because he held back nothing
He gave us all he had been given
Today in Tokyo, beneath the Eiffel Tower, in Ghana’s Blackstar Square, in Johannesburg, in Pittsburgh, in Birmingham, Alabama and Birmingham England, we are missing Michael Jackson
But we do know that we had him
And we are the world.-Maya Angelou
Upon news of her passing, the Michael Jackson Estate released this statement:
Maya Angelou was a hero to the millions of people whose lives she enriched with her extraordinary wisdom, powerful words, eternal message of hope as well as her commitment to teaching others and sharing her… gifts. Upon Michael’s passing, Dr. Angelou wrote “We Had Him,” a poetic tribute to Michael in which she poignantly captured the world’s aching feeling of loss with its joy at having known Michael.
“He thrived with passion and compassion, humor and style.
We had him whether we know who he was or did not know, he was ours and we were his.
We had him, beautiful, delighting our eyes.
His hat, aslant over his brow, and took a pose on his toes for all of us.
And we laughed and stomped our feet for him
We were enchanted with his passion because he held nothing. He gave us all he had been given.”
As we mourn the loss of Dr. Angelou, we honor her for having given us all she had been given.
Her death, coming as it has on the heels of Nelson Mandela’s passing, and with the fifth anniversary of Michael’s passing only a few mere weeks away, only serves to remind us of the great void of light that is ever growing among us. One by one, those who shone the brightest lights upon our humanity are fading out.
And the world is a colder place for their loss. But for a little while, we had him.
And we had her.