Imagine a ten-year-old with a whip.
In films, it’s always a middle-aged man
with a haggard mouth. I also lost teeth, myself
a little snaggletoothed falsetto-swearer.
Movies never show how slaves pissed and shit
themselves, but I’ve seen surrender embrace
a brother’s tense thighs, sheltered nostrils
from the whispered stench
of a final prayer. The sobbing is not despairing
as his mouth, silent and open for aeons
before throat unbuttons its sound.
Leather makes sculpture of skin and cotton
still lashes my hand, however soft.
I’ll give you something to cry for: in photos,
the overseer’s clothes never quite fit, hang
overweighted bones like a father’s coat.
Ashanti Anderson (she/her) is a Black Queer poet, screenwriter, and playwright. Her poetry has appeared in POETRY magazine, World Literature Today, Foothill Journal, and elsewhere. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and winner of the 2018 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Poetry Contest. You can learn more about Ashanti’s previous & latest shenanigans at ashanticreates.com.