sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people
He has plundered our—
destroyed the lives of our—
taking away our—
abolishing our most valuable—
and altering fundamentally the Forms of our—
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for
Redress in the most humble terms:
Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.
We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration
and settlement here.
on the high Seas
Copyright © 2018 by Tracy K. Smith, from Wade in the Water. Used by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved. www.graywolfpress.org.
Fuss, fight, and cutting the huckley-buck—Dear Malindy,
Underground, must I always return to the country of the dead,
To the coons catting about in the trees, the North Carolina pines
Chattering about sweetening bodies in their green whirring?
Do these letters predict my death—some sound of a twig
Breaking then a constant drowning—a butter bean drying
Beneath my nails? Casket, rascal, and corn bread cooling board.
Dear Malindy, when the muskrats fight in the swamp I knows
It’s you causing my skull to rattle. You predicted my death
With my own baby teeth and a rancid moon beneath our legs.
No girl, my arm still here. The antlers on the mantle yet quiet.
All the ocean’s water without me and yet in me. Never mind,
Malindy. They already shot the black boy on the road for dying
Without their permission. Yes, gal, I put on my nice suit. And wait.