Jeff Smith 6:35 p.m., June 27
A poem by Robert Hedin
- What I remember most about Muhammad Ali
- Are not the fast hands and loose, graceful footwork,
- Or Manila or Zaire. Or even what came after —
- The slurred speech, the sad slow shuffle.
- No, what I remember is a boy somewhere
- In the foothills of the snowy Zagros Mountains,
- A small Kurdish boy in a long blue robe
- Who gave us directions that day we were lost,
- And how he knew nothing of America
- But two syllables he sang over and over
- In the high: unbroken voice of a girl —
- Ali, Ali — then laughed and all at once
- Began to bob and weave, jabbing and juking,
- His robe flaring a moment like a fighter’s.
- Ali. One word, two bright syllables
- That turned to smoke in the morning air.
- And he pointed down the long dusty road
- To Hatra and Ur, the ruins of Babylon,
- And the two ancient rivers we had read about,
- Their dark starless waters draining away into fog.