Visiting the African Burial Ground

90% of the 419 skeletons and scattered—
battered bone bits—
interred in seven burial mounds—
were wound in cloth shrouds,
their heads—skulls—facing west,
and laid out in correct coffins.
The original Manhattanite Africans
buried their beloved
“with Dignity and Respect,”
demonstrating behaviour “consistent
with practices of enlightened Humanity.”
The dead went into the earth
with cowrie shells, cuff links, and copper pennies
placed atop closed eyes
to keep em shut.
The deceased New Yorker Africans
were shovelled into holes outside
the original, settler palisade,
a fortress wall hammered together
by these same African selves,
in 1746,
who were good enough to build,
but not fit to live within said fencing,
but certainly well-suited to staff
the extra-territorial, ultra vires
Parliament of the Dead.

[New York (New York) 25 juin mmxv]




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