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Blue

Written by: Chris Abani | Biography
Africans in the hold fold themselves
to make room for hope.
In the afternoon’s ferocity, tar, grouting the planks like the glue of family, melts to the run of a child’s licorice stick.
Wet decks crack, testing the wood’s mettle.
Distilled from evaporating brine, salt dusts the floor, tickling with the measure into time and the thirst trapped below.
II The captain’s new cargo of Igbos disturbs him.
They stand, computing the swim back to land.
Haitians still say: Igbo pend’c or’ a ya! But we do not hang ourselves in cowardice.
III Sold six times on the journey to the coast, once for a gun, then cloth, then iron manilas, her pride was masticated like husks of chewing sticks, spat from morning-rank mouths.
Breaking loose, edge of handcuffs held high like the blade of a vengeful axe, she runs across the salt scratch of deck, pain deeper than the blue inside a flame.
IV The sound, like the break of bone could have been the Captain’s skull or the musket shot dropping her over the side, her chains wrapped around his neck in dance.



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