There’s an echo against the cliff
below the castle where the sand is
wet with tears, seaweed
a faded shade of brown. A tide-driven froth
coats my bare white feet.
Beachcombers in lingering shadows
rummage through fragments. The only light
is an orange moon.
The tide is green.

. . . Listen, listen.
All dreamers hear sounds, whispered by shells.
Some hear the Atlantic as she softly moans.
While the story travels, up, riding the flotsam
and sea foam, and slowly unfolds,
the trees near the ocean’s edge hint at
what happened.

Yes, they only hint,—
but oh! Oh, at the point of departure,
how the spirits speak! Sounds like
horrible groans. Sounds.
Like the rattle of chains. Sounds.
Listen. Listen hard. For the voice of the echo
is joined to the cliff by salty tears,
the tears who married that dark, dark sand.

The bones of kings,
who last saw Ghana as they
sailed away, crossing the vast and silver water,
are preserved by salt and have settled,
though probed now by small, mean fish,
several fathoms deep on the ocean floor,
where the whole world is as black as it was—
in the hold of the slaver’s ship.

first published in Independence Boulevard