Daniel P. Mannix, Black Cargoes
Nothing remotely bordering truth to be said for the ones held deep in the hold
hauled up the rotting ship stairs, each dripping face, hand, knee, elbow, ass,
all clambering, scratching, clawing at the yellow gunwales, until the critical mass
of those already thrown overboard pulled them too, still chained, so bold
in their descent, gleaming, hell-bent, their bubbled breaths still held,
past bull sharks, groupers, blue and black, mahi mahi, dolphin fish, never schooled
for such as this, yoked chum, a village wriggling, spiraling down, en masse,
to land, riprap, a bracelet of bodies, a beaded living necklace.
The oldest lie would say they died free, gurgling, welcoming death, the hulled
shell above them a new covenant ark, that they rose, walked smiling to Atlantis,
bathed in the jeweled waters of Avalon. They did not. They died, truly, each carcass
chewed and flayed. Still, just this morning, in the blue and black mist that lies above the cold,
I saw them walking, schoolchildren alighting from the yellow ships of their buses,
each with a hand held freely to another, each with another hand to hold.