I am here.
Why am I here?
The salt water that fills my hands, soaks my clothes,
Above deck the light of the sun masks the reality that comes with darkness,
The truth of what we are doing,
What is below our feet.
My feet brush the rough stairs,
One foot after another.
The embrace of the sun is abandoning me,
And I resent that.
But how can I?
For me, the sun is a friend,
I know it will greet me soon.
The air is thick with robbed humanity,
Suffocating them with its absence,
Suffocating me with its presence,
I am killing us all.
My nostrils are consumed with sick, feces, and urine.
My ears devoured by cries of pain, by nibbling of rats,
One after another my senses are giving way,
Giving way to the conscious that I have created,
The conscious I have escaped but deserve.
They turn at the pocket of light that my opening of the door has created,
But it is shattered as they realize it is only me,
The one who is here to beat out of them all that remains,
It will soon be gone,
As will mine.
When I speak I speak with the voice that has been assigned to me,
How do I allow myself to live like this?
I am drowning in my own actions,
In disgust of what I have done,
Disgust that I lack what it takes to shatter their chains.
But I don’t do that.
I don’t do anything.
I pull them up from splintered wood on which they sleep.
Their naked bodies,
Pushed and pulled against it day in and day out,
So close together.
Bodies packed together,
Glued with sweat.
We wouldn’t treat our own dog like this.
Why then, is this an acceptable way to treat people?
They are chained, still.
We are are in the middle of the ocean,
We have guns,
They don’t even have clothes.
But we are scared,
Not necessarily of their retaliation,
But that in doing so,
By our death or theirs,
The shadows of lies,
That we are greater, and they,
Will be removed from our eyes.
We are scared of seeing what is really there,
Scared of the animals,
That we know to be people,
Seeing their degradation,
The wounds that extend to bone,
The souls that we have stolen.
But in the end we're all the same.
We scrub their bodies,
Attack the wounds,
They have been ripped from their families,
Dragged by their hair across this Atlantic ocean,
This ocean of bones.
It is more than I,
Than we will ever know,
But we continue.
We have stuck the knife into each and every one of their backs,
And now we twist it.
Has thrown her child into piercingly cold waters,
Done for the sake of love.
But we punish,
Cut deep lines across her back,
That baby was money,
Just waiting to be made.
A symbol of dehumanization,
But we mask it with our fragile claims to ownership.
The woman is silent,
Even as the space around her grows dark,
With the stench of her blood,
Blood that runs down the sides of the ship,
Embraces her infant to the very end.
Each lash a sign that she has done the right thing,
No one should have to live like this.
The captured Africans,
Back below deck,
Buckets of water thrown down to clean the space,
A sign of our goodness to these lesser individuals,
Or so we tell ourselves.
Self gratifying as always.
We don’t want to smell the pain.
I lie in a hammock,
With a blanket,
Thinking of the people,
Maybe ten feet below,
Cursing myself for aiding in this division.
I fall asleep,
The light of the stars now a betrayal,
For I can see them,
Wretched as I am,
The innocent on this planet cannot.
Drifting away to a lullaby of muffled screams,
A coarse sailors hand,
Covering the mouth of a captured girl,
His grunts overpower tears,
I lay there,
I fall asleep,
I do nothing.