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The Flesh and the Blood

by Ellen June Wright

(For Angela, enslaved, Jamestown, Virginia 1619)

I give you the flesh
you must have had
I give you a uterus
ovaries, vulva
an irregular period
I give you breasts
with nipples and areola
I give you curves, hips
lips, limbs, fingers
with tips
and broken nails
coarse hands
big feet
kinky hair
ship’s splinters
buried in your flesh
a brand burned
into your skin
come forward
step out of obscurity
stand center stage
let the light break on you
groan, moan, howl
if you have to
sing, speak
if you can
tell me your life
no matter how brief
flow through me
ordinary Black woman
no magic found
only hope
in the confines of your reality
slavery as industry
this is how not to break ground
in a New World.


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Ellen June Wright is an American poet with British and Caribbean roots. Her work has been published in Plume, Tar River, Missouri Review, Verse Daily, Gulf Stream, Solstice, Louisiana Literature, Leon Literary Review, North American Review, Prelude and Gulf Coast, and is forthcoming in the Cimarron Review. She’s a Cave Canem and Hurston/Wright alumna and has received multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations.  Instagram 

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