Bound in burlap and branded by the whip
I book it blind through this swamp
while cradling my spirit.
The souls of those who have
dared to dream before
clutch around my ankles,
still desperate to taste freedom.
The stale water stirs as I stomp forward—
filled with fear—
and the rotting smell of my ancestors
fills the air.
The barking of those blood-hungry beasts
bounces off the splintered bark of these ghostly trees,
they’re catching up to me.
My calloused foot catches a root
the wrong way
and I plunge into purgatory.
I wake up
but the world looks off from up here
Swaying from a tainted tree
this willow weeps for me
and as the twine tangles and twists
around my neck
I reach my bloodied and blistered hand
toward those cotton clouds
for all of my
brothers and sisters
who were fated to fade in those fields below.
I wasn’t your boy then
and I’m surely not now
still beautifully black and proud.