Brother, can you hear me?
Brother?
 
Is your body buried there?
If I were to drink
All the water in the ocean
Until it overflowed into my lungs
And drowned me,
Would my corpse then lie
With yours?
 
Brother, is it cold down there?
It is hundreds of years later
But we as a people
Still have not uncovered
The secrets of the ocean,
Nor the story
Of the breaths
You never took.
 
Brother, did you die down there?
Did you die with the weight of the sea
Crushing your bones,
Crushing your soul,
Or did you die on the bow of a ship?
Did you die in its chest,
Deep inside it,
Where you were stacked upon bodies
Beneath bodies,
Beside bodies…
Did you die from the weight
Of our cousins?
 
Brother, did you die in the womb?
In the womb, in the womb,
In the womb of a ship?
Of our Earth?
Of our mother,
Who was beaten before she could birth you?
Who was starved despite you
Being inside her?
 
Bodies upon bodies beneath bodies inside bodies.
 
Or maybe it was her.
Maybe it was her who killed you,
Her who tossed you back into
The roaring womb of the ocean
Right as you had just left hers,
Because she thought drowning
Was better
Than all the pains
You would feel
When your ship landed.
 
Brother, did the chains ever fall off?
I’m sure you went down with them,
But was your body ever freed?
Your body, your body,
The body no one but you
Ever should have owned?
Were you ever freed
From the claim
On your soul?
 
Brother?
 
My voice drowns before it is ever heard,
But I want you to know
That I do cry for you.
Nailah Smith
Published in Issue 40