IF WE MUST DIE

Justin Danzy

Give me the carapace to which I’m beholden,
this many membered relic—quilted, amended,
strewn into being. Give me what electrifies

the flesh, this labor of survival: the ox, ox goad,
the yoke, bride price at which we’ve been auctioned.

Give me the stepladder to splendor, to riches:
the gas money, bus fare, the postage stamp used

by the man who shipped himself north
in a wooden container, his legs contorted so long
he couldn’t feel his feet for weeks when he arrived

in the same old familiar world, post office and all,
with his ever new self, with his infinite expectation

and faith, not knowing what it is to be beaten.

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