S.S. IMPERIAL

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S.S. IMPERIAL

The appearance and names of castles blur:

England looks like England

one rainy days looks like the next,

all grey and filled with imperial plunder.

Today, we learned of warships and war criminals,

how the British Navy came to be, how this castle

became a stronghold where a port was built;

it did not rain today, but it still feel like England:

England feels like England even on sunny days.

There was a memorial for the enslaved

who died at the sea; I dare not weep in England,

my tears would not reach my ancestors back in Arkansas

and Mississippi, my tears would be confined

to this castle, boxed in by the salty sea.

They would not reach those forced to choose

between death and death on foreign waters.

I can’t swim, I won’t get back to Chicago;

don’t abandon my body in England, I want

to choose where I die, and it’s can’t be near

the sea, can’t be a foreign country that feels

strangely familiar: England imprisons Black bodies even in present day.

Oh, I began speaking of castles,

now I speak of my desire to die near my ancestors:

Death is not finite in a foreign country;

every country is foreign to my Black skin

every country is foreign to those once enslaved.