FREE VERSE POEM
ELLEN JUNE WRIGHT
UNMARKED GRAVE C. 1630
(for Angela, enslaved, Jamestown, Virginia 1619)
Angela, let me speak to your bones
wherever they’re buried. I can't forget you,
can’t forget your body, worked
until it was prematurely old.
I hope you found rest in death
if there's rest to be had.
I hope if there’s a spirit,
it’s able to find its way home to ‘Ngola,
the land between two great rivers.
Undo your middle passage.
Swim like Jonah’s fish
across the ocean past wrecks,
past those drowned still in chains.
Fly like a gull guided by the sun’s arc.
And though your bones are here—somewhere,
your spirit finds its way back
to where it first entered your body
when your mother conceived
and your blueberry-sized heart began to pump.
Ellen June Wright was born in England and currently lives in Northern New Jersey. She is a retired English teacher who consulted on guides for three PBS poetry series. Her work was selected as The Missouri Review’s Poem of the Week in June 2021, and she is a Cave Canem and Hurston/Wright alumna and received 2021 and 2022 Pushcart Prize nominations. Find her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EllenJuneWrites