I cannot speak the languages
spoken in that vessel,
cannot read the beads
I know this only,
that when the green of land
appeared like light
after the horror of this crossing,
we straightened our backs
and faced the simplicity
of new days with flame.
I know I have the blood of survivors
coursing through my veins;
I know the lament of our loss
must warm us again and again
down in the belly of the whale,
here in the belly of the whale
where we are still searching for homes.
We sing laments so old, so true,
then straighten our backs again.
From Requiem. Copyright © 1996 by Kwame Dawes. Used with the permission of Peepal Tree Press.