Kate Hymes

The Seminar

Iron shackles clanked
onto the table. Placed among
books and papers, rough metal
smothered musings, silenced
pens scratching for understanding.
Iron gave weight
to studied words about
whips and chains and runaways.
Bulk made light
pursuit of metaphor and simile.
Passed from hand to hand,
each left and right
a balance pan lifting
the shackles up and down
to gauge their heft. Fingers
rubbed the biting metal.
Touch taught
what words could not,
how the soul
wears raw.
A perpetual caravan
of red and ragged
flesh moves confined
through time and space:
shuffle aboard slave ships,
stumble in coffles sold deep south,
shamble in chain gangs along dusty roads,
step aboard downstate busses for upstate prisons.

About the Author

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