[an extract]

We thought this orb was god seeing us

there                    were                38 maritime                vessels
they          were                all ocular                     if they chose   to be

let us establish a fact:
eyes are for seeing
naming is for subjugating

a vantage is an equivocated belief
a border is shorthand for retreat

some said it was a tragedy
as if there were no fault to lay
I mean the faultless stars

the vessels — some we can name:
Méndez Núñez

We are          Eritrean       Ethiopian          Nigerian           
        Sudanese                                      Ghanaian

all the things they confiscate: our water, our food,
our SIM cards, our jewelry

The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome
sent calls
          every 4 hours
          for 10 days
the math a facsimile
of our need
maps our waning living
an unidentified helicopter
biscuits and water by rope
they photograph us on mobiles
and view us through binoculars

there is the Cypriot vessel
Tunisian fishing boats

we are too black
too abject
our yearning too evident
the ugliness of our need

we waited for an aristeia
supposed it would come
some mighty force would
belie what
the fates wrought us

it was agonizing

all our hope a
warped vessel
our bodies mere deadweight

Asiya Wadud

© Asiya Wadud, from Syncope (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2019)

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