Today's poem is by David Mills

“Ghana’s, Gold Coast has now virtually changed
into a pure slave coast.”
Dutch West India Company Director Rademacher, 1730

My mouth is crowded by over three
      months of memories. How
did I end up cuffed, abducted,
      thrust through doors where
the darkness envies my skin

My life sandwiched
      between hundreds of mumbles,
walls and floors fashioned
      from minced seashells and spit.
The branding iron insists

all our shoulders must smoke and wilt.
      Since what cannot be stored in the blood must be
discarded from the body’s awful architecture,
      we have now, somehow, become Portuguese
feces rotting in this limestone

colon. Is this what happens
      to our bodies as, unknowingly, the heart
erects its own citadels of bitterness? Beyond
      the darkness, a harmattan winces,
delivering illegible messages.

Coffled, one morning, I am dragged to a door—which our
      host insists resembles their language’s little “n.” Peering
out from under the archway of what had to be
      a small, awful letter in their
alphabet, I witness the sky’s

lonely yolk punishing the Gold
      Coast; then like slippery, silver
question marks, tuna leap from the depths.
      These denizens of the sea are convinced
that somewhere in the air is the answer

to why the fishermen have been missing;
      they are convinced that, now, in order to
find grief, they must diligently seek it out:
      the hook, the yank, the unknown. The ocean
salivates as we drift away. Why

is my heart being ferried
      from its dark, throbbing harbor?
Spoon-fashion, I listen to
      the surf
then I tuck a promise
      within my ankle; I will return skipping
over the ocean’s snowing,

Copyright © 2009 David Mills All rights reserved
from The Literary Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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