as oceans clutch the stain of skin by Debra Webb Roberts

To swallow oceans, brother
Tell me, did I know the scent of
your sweet breath? All the world
lay now bereft – the softest voice,
your going down to kiss Poseidon’s feet
and jagged cries comes rising from the depths

‘Tis war that drove you far away
some wretched coast of rock
and inhospitable, where no soft landing
found at pillowed sand, at welcome shore
might greet

From rocking sea the stars
and night sky witness to the wrecks
the heaving hulls of capsized hopes
of all who never will attain to dreams

but spit into the chasms deep
the canyons raging ‘mong the froth
of cruel seas, where not one light
of ship or sail displayed, nor hailed
to save your sinking frame

With voice as one, with breath
from all our human strength,
a prayer may rise, invoke the gods
to intervene

But emptied hulls to travesties attest,
and mourning sight of brothers beaten
down, to sorrow’s point that most do
flee their homes

As kindred souls from distant perch
do watch, with candles lit, our vigil keep,
and sail to meet the migrant throng,
to snatch from death the brother
fleeing wrong

until that day the ravaged lands to
war laid waste, the ocean steeped
in bruising blues forevermore be stained

found teeming there in blacks and browns,
the flesh of refugees of hate, detained,
gone sinking into fathoms deep, mute
testaments to glory’s hope, salvation
found by many, at rest within a watery grave

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