(16th–20th Centuries)

Alyea Pierce

When the whole point of throwing black bodies
off slave ships
and into sea
was so nobody would find them
there is a problem
when what they are trying
to commemorate
are people who were

It is not natural
and yet still
the sea knows my great-great-great-grandfather
more than I ever will
from the smell of his sweat
to the serenade of his steups
the water knows his every story
and I don’t even know his real name

When anger is always
at what point is that all you are?

All humans share one thing in common
the need for water to survive

In the drowning
pregnant African women swallowed gallons of a new freedom
unborn babies breathed below and birthed themselves
making ocean floor Home

All humans share one thing in common
the need to survive

Blk folk always swam
Blk folk were burned while swimming
Blk folk were redlined not to swim
Blk folk doh like gettin their hair wet
Blk folk can swim-swim
Blk folk got choice
                              swim through trauma or drown

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