In antediluvian mathematics, one black
body equals a ship + half a distant country
across the shores

– Chiwenite Onyekwelu


the man woke up and found himself
within the siege of a sea.
his eyes threaded through the bodies of other
slaves on the ship sprawled and chained, waiting
and praying silently, patiently for a sudden miracle.
he whispered to a man beside him whose bruised lips resembled
the jagged roads of an impoverished city: where is my wife?
the man looked pitifully at his eyes, pleading to be pardoned
like a father telling his child to forgive him of being incapacitated to rescue
its mother from the chokehold of a war.
they gave her to the tempest to still the ship, he answered.
a tear escaped his eye and like oil slipping out of a palm,
his soul deserted his windpipe.
another white head said, toss him overboard like his wife.
the other black chattels petitioned to God in quietude
like the stillness of a moonlit night
to rid them of this transcendence, knowing their bodies are outcasts
in the cities ahead, waiting menacingly to whittle them into dust.
since to be black in the land ahead is like pests
trying to erupt chaos in a vegetable garden.