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Sunken Place (Poem)



(Photo by: Jacob Walti )

Meet me in the depths
in that sunken place, my sister
in that space where the water is frozen
so cold – nothing ages
accept the fact that we have to return there
for the right eyes, the white eyes to see us

it’s a cemetery of self
where we trade in pounds of flesh
or we’ve traded stripes on our backs
or given away parts of our souls for words like
“You ain’t like the others. No, no…YOU I like.”
and we smile with gritted teeth and clenched shut jaws

It’s a gray place, a dead space
where time really doesn’t pass
where those from our past stand with us
who are often quoted to show us, US!
what it was our fathers and mothers really meant
when they sang, “Like a tree standing by the waters, I shall not be moved.”

We tone down our colors
we click our tongues on consonants
whether you were born here or brought from another continent
or brought into being because the world needed
something gentler
than the clockwork world of industry could make

My African sister – I know what it feels
like to be called ‘other’ though we are born of different
mothers, I can tell you with heartfelt certainty that our colors do not run
but in that sunken place, we gather
gather quickly we speak boldly of the day
we can step into the sun

But for now we linger
in that sunken place, we gather
for the right eyes, the white eyes
to tell us, “Yes, boy, you …YOU are who the rest should be.”
Not knowing as we cast our gaze to one another
we know for sure that someday maybe we can turn around and leave this place
sunken lowly wretched wicked place
and finally be free.