Once Upon A Time
Once he had a jug like this, though not for serving beer,
Not squat, and made of finest porcelain, but
Rough, red clay, with slim and graceful neck,
It kept the water cool inside his mother's hut.
Once he watched vessels, boats, not pirate ships
With western flags and canvas sails a-quiver,
But small fishermen's crafts, which floated, bobbed and weaved
Among the rushes on the Niger River.
He danced once, not to sound of whip crack,
Limbo-ing across the deck from out a stinking hold,
But to the voice of talking drums, he pounded
Black earth, with nimble feet, carefree and bold.
He worked in fields, not on sugar-cane plantations,
Where lacerated black backs fester in the sun,
But among the palms, where digging, planting yams,
They spiced the air with laughter, talk and song.
Once he had a name, not borrowed from a stranger,
Not one with meaning long forgotten or unknown,
But a title held throughout his generations,
And one that he was proud to call his own.
He had a body, not a cherub's, softly plump and white,
With flowing hair tumbling down - instead,
He had a face and body, black and sinewy,
And hair curled tight, and close around his head.
One day he read a poem, and wondered at the hand
Which wrote "'twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land."