If I am called to carry ships,
my crystal body hauling foreign goods,
all of this Black shoved impossibly
through a clear and whistling frame
jostling in a current, bracing silver frothy waves,
then I must make my peace with my glass home.
My sparkling tomb throws fractured sun
on rippling waters, shipping ancient cargo,
kinks, coils and broken English; skin like ember,
hope and West African prayer,
my fire-blown limbs take more than winding sea
to shatter as I carry this freight to shore.
We never learn to love our burdens,
at least not how we learn to love water
when it is between us and ocean floor.
Somehow, it is an honor to swim,
to know intimately what seeks to drown us.
I am taught to travel light, be nothing
more than glass and wind, and though
I’ve never known a burden heavier than this,
I raise the masts with wired thread
and tie this Black with netted rope,
this treasure stored inside my chest,
its shimmering sails upright, unscathed
sure to reach the speckled coast.
Aris Kian received her BA from the University of Houston and is an inaugural member of CoogSlam, the 4th in the nation collegiate slam team. She has work published in Underground Journal, Thirty West Publishing House, and Defunkt Magazine. She was a blogger for AfroVibes Media and co-hosted poetry workshops for WITS. She has been featured in Write About Now Poetry (CoogSlam), The Vibe Experience, and Glass Mountain.