Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Anything But Free

Anything But Free

(A Story in verse)

Standing in the sand alone;
Looking out to sea;
Wretched, bitter to the bone;
He is anything but free.

He hopes his wife and child are dead,
And lying in their graves;
All their suffering over, ‘stead
Of living life as slaves.

Feeling such joy yesterday;
Beside him stood his child and wife;
Now his future looks so gray;
He’s taking his own life.

His only desire is but to die;
He hopes his end is near;
From his lips escapes a sigh;
For ones he held so dear.

His life without them, meaningless;
To carry all that shame;
For to himself he must confess;
He is the one to blame.

Had he but been there;
When the slave ship touched the shore;
His family might still be here;
Guilt cuts unto the core.

He cannot himself forgive;
For being on a trip;
When to his home there did arrive;
A dreadful British ship.

When from the hunt he then returned;
Those who survived did tell a tale;
Of how their huts were burned;
How they fought to no avail.

Named the Monarch of the Sea;
The ship came with the heavy rains;
It took his friends and family;
Shackled them in chains.

Loved ones missing from the village;
Brothers, sisters, families lost;
After white man’s plundering, pillage;
Oh, how their greed has cost.

So many tribesmen taken;
Families torn asunder;
As if they’d been forsaken;
Their world pulled out from under.

When this story he did hear,
His heart broke into splinters;
He had never known such fear;
Though he’d weathered thirty winters.

When he was but fourteen;
He married for tribe and family;
He could never have foreseen;
How much in love he’d be.

Seven times his wife gave birth;
Six precious babies died;
A seventh child brought so much mirth;
When she mercifully survived.

They named her for his mother;
Feeling so much pride and joy;
After the loss of her big brothers;
The grief of losing their sweet boys.

As he trudges on ‘neath blistering heat;
Memories fill his head;
Dust covering his calloused feet;
To his own death he is led.

His reminiscences are all good;
He’d never live them again;
He was starving himself of food;
All life’s happiness had been.

His body needing water;
He will never again drink;
He thinks about his daughter;
And what of him she must think.

Food is what his body needs to live;
Alas, for repast he has no desire;
Only love and family give;
Life passion and sweet fire.

She would have felt so terrified;
She must have called his name;
His soul for her sweet safety cried;
He could not bear his shame.

Had he been somehow closer, nearer to his home;
He’d have heard them when they cried,
They wouldn’t have been alone;
Maybe he’d have saved them; at least he could have tried.

If present, he’d perhaps still have failed to save his kin;
But, with them now at least he‘d be;
Chained to the vessel’s overheated cargo bin;
Bodies packed tight upon that ship at sea.

Sailing to a life of chained captivity;
Some thankfully would not arrive;
Black corpses dumped into the sea;
Better they should not survive.

Many would not survive;
The Middle Passage so ceaseless;
Many lost their very lives;
To horrible diseases.

When ones skin was black,
Beating was a common thing;
Too many a naked back,
Felt the cat-o-nine’s sting.

If you did not do as you were told;
If you did not obey;
You couldn’t dare to be so bold;
And see another day.

He thinks about their fateful trip;
With horror and great shame;
He sees them on that frightful ship;
And carries all the blame.

He’s heard such horrid tales;
Of women used for white man’s satisfaction;
He’s heard of human beings for sale;
Lined up in human auctions.

He is all alone now;
From shame he’s left his tribe;
He doesn’t even know how;
To want to stay alive.

One question circles round his brain;
Like a vulture in the sky;
Around and around goes the refrain;
Oh why? Oh why? Oh why?

When one’s life has been stripped bare,
When everything’s been taken;
There’s nothing left to love or care;
For the heart alone, forsaken.

Nothing’s left to make life just;
But to find a place to lay his head;
A place to lie down in the dust;
And stay there ‘til he’s dead.

As he breathes his last labored breath;
Life departing, for he knows not where;
He has no desire to feel past death;
In a world so cruel, unfair.

He could never truly know,
That he was not at fault;
For persons sunk so low,
They traded human beings for salt.

Although we can now look back;
Too late, and with despair;
To own someone because they’re black;
We know to be unfair.

We have all moved on now;
We know each human should live free;
We’ve all begun to wonder how,
It took so long to see.

In this world, unfortunately;
Freedom is still not here;
There are those still in captivity;
Passing through this life in fear.

We must keep on striving, seeking peaceful ways;
To ensure from sea to sea,
The changes of the days;
‘Til every soul is free.

Although he lived with all the pain;
He didn’t live for naught;
He lived for precious knowledge gained;
So that, a message should be sought.

I hope that we have learned;
This lesson that is taught;
A person’s freedom is not earned;
And human beings can’t be bought.

Lindsay Riggs Brown

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