Our stone wall was built by slaves and my bones, my bones
are paid for. We have two
 
of everything, twice heavy
in our pockets, warming
our two big hands.
 
This is the story, as I know it. One morning:
the ships came, as foretold, and death
pearl-handled, almost
 
and completely.
How cheap a date I turned out to be.
 
Each finger weak with the memory:
lost teeth, regret. Our ghosts
walk the shoulders of the road at night.
I get the feeling you’ve been lying to me.

  • Camille Rankine, "History" from Incorrect Merciful Impulses. Copyright © 2016 by Camille Rankine. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

  • Source: Incorrect Merciful Impulses (Copper Canyon Press, 2016)

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