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by Dylan Robinson

My sister and I, who boarded as cargo.
With nothing, we made
The promise to be good.

But I recall an unchained Abed leaping into the ocean
And how they forced the able-bodied men into a small lightless room
Where a few holes let air in.

For hours they fought and gasped and fought
And while others died, I lay beside the widest hole
And covered it with my mouth, so that none saw.

And one of the younger boys grabbed me and pulled
And I let him pull,
And remained while he stilled.

And when the door opened three of twenty remained.
And they took us to the top deck,
Put us back to work.

And later
When my sister would look at me
I would clap my hands over my head and cry.