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My Mind Wanders Down to the Darkness

some mornings, after prayer,
my mind wanders down to the darkness

 of the lower decks, to women
 packed in like dry goods upon a shelf

hardly room to stretch their legs, their arms.
I feel them there in the discomfort of womanhood—

 moon phases passing through their bodies
 during the long ship’s journey

or pregnancy filling their wombs—
abdominal muscles separating.

 I have to pull myself away from sisters
 who groan and cry for the unknown fate they face.

Today, I’m going to enjoy the freedom
that’s mine in remembrance of women

 in the lower decks
 who could only imagine the luxury

of ample interior space.
I’m going to eat a hearty meal for them.

 I’m going to read because they could not.
 I’m going to write this because I can.



  1. Anna M Limontas-Salisbury on

    Bravo! This poem bought to mine the gospel hymn lyric “Then my living shall not be in vain.” A beautiful tribute to those who suffered and died. Because of them we live. So live, poet, live.

  2. Angela M. Franklin on

    What a wonderful poem of suffering transformed into hope because the poet could pen it.

  3. Kathleen Williamson on

    Love this poem so much, Ellen!

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