They do not want me to be a river, but I am unstoppable.
I am the perfect instrument. Capable
of every sound, but here the only sound you hear under
me is No. Is, Please. The men
in uniforms strap them to the wood
and call it water-
boarding, like drowning is an amusing summer sport.
They hood them into darkness, and tilt their heads
back, pour me up nose and throat until they can't breathe without sucking
me in. Inside the prisoners' lungs, I see only panic,
and mothers. The men in uniforms say they do this
to get “the information.”
I do not know what this “getting”
means. I only know swallow
undertow and rip-
tide. I have been
the moon's wife, but here I taste of mold
They line me up
with their scalpels, their chains,
their American pop music
played all night
to drive the men crazy, to get the information
I do not know what desperation
but I imagine it is why the water in these men
crawls out of their eyes to say hello
Strange, isn't it? To be 58% a thing and yet
recoil when you hear its rush—
Don't you know this? Silly human
with a dog-tag hanging round your neck,
that you are made of me? Connected
to all the humid rot in this dungeon air—
how you make a puppet of the current
in you, soldier.
How fast you make an ocean into a gutter
filled with blood and shit—
looking for answers? Like you could find an oracle
in more death
of the heart. I made you.
Do you think the first creature crawled out of me
to invent torture?
I understand why you do this.
I know what it is
to close your eyes and see only the thousands of dead
someone has laid at your doorstep. You have filled me
with shipwreck and slave-hold but still
you holler bold
with your proud, American heart and I wish
I could stop flowing in you.
Wish I could return to the clouds,
to kiss the lightning with my wet throat
but I am locked in your muscle
as you beat each man
for praying in a language that looks
like waves. I have
and it wraps around the entire earth.
It is a vengeful storm
and I have learned from you how to cleave
waves from the marrow
how to lick clean.