November 1, 2020
I am a descendent of the people without names
remembered only in the water
that holds every soul she has ever been gifted
When I pass her, she asks me to join her
but I decline. Instead I keep marching and marching
until I am rewarded with the sight of the resurrection.
That day more bodies come from the water than from anywhere else
not the ground, not the air, not from space
They float up from the water arms out, feet pointed.
Two million star-shaped balloons.
I wait on the beach for them barefoot
called that morning by the water in my tea
anchoring into the sand letting the waves
teach me their names.
They came hovering to meet me
blackening the sky long before nightfall
their smiles stars, their eyes moons.
I stay on the shore envious of those who followed
the water’s waves to birth.
I stay so there would still be someone to greet them
four centuries later.
They float over my head and I follow them.
I let the tears, and the tears, and the tears
fall and I could have cried my whole life
and still not have enough water to tribute to them
They land powerful on the sand
steady feet leagues bigger than my own
big enough to hold up the Maafa
that failed to swallow them.
They grow larger. Their kinky hair leaves
their bodies lean bark coming closer to me
until we breathe the same breath.
They ribbon around me.
Their skin, my skin, our skin
so beautiful, nourished in water for 400 years.
Fiona Raye Clarke is an award-winning Trinidadian-Canadian writer and community-engaged artist.
Her work has appeared online or in print at Broken Pencil Magazine, Room Magazine blog, The Puritan Town Crier, and These Lands: A Collection of Voices by Black Poets in Canada edited by Chelene Knight. She is an alumnus of the Diaspora Dialogues Long-Form Mentorship Program and the Banff Centre. She is currently working on her first novel.