Igbo Landing: Afro Atlantan Merfolk

By Candace G. Wiley

disambiguation: Merpeople, Afro Atlantic, Sea Zombies

Salt-water creatures unliving in strip towns
along the Atlantic floor between Africa and Americas.

As when warrior goddess of the hurricane slapped
storms against thick planted cargo ship masts, moored,
sunk both strange and familiar men and still more came

As when god of disease sent rats to bite the soft beige
of shipmate cheeks, urinate on their food rations, release
fleas into matted slicks of oily hair and still more came

As when god of war descended incarnate and slit throats
into revolt, sometimes with no survivors on either side,
and still more came

As when god of disease blew foul air on sweaty faces
in the cargo hold, waited off portside for that shipment
to stagger to the deck, inhale a first chest-full of fresh air,

be lowered to the sea, delivered into the arms of god
of crossroads, and rushed back to healers on the continent
(instead, they were tossed stiff, breathless into the deep)

and still more came as when the Huntsfolk, guards of the surface
and the Merfolk, guards of the deep, stood watch over each
wind-tossed, diseased, starving, and revolting ship,

called to each piece of cargo by name, welcomed the leap overboard
souls to the waters, the portal to the next life.

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