BLACK SPRING
TO
BLACK SUMMER

"A slave's funeral."

TEXT AND IMAGE BY
XXAVIER EDWARD CARTER

***Black Spring to Black Summer***Electric car, Driving off a cliff into the ocean, Parting traffic, Hitting the retaining wall. * A baptism, When the saints, All the prophet’s blood, The ocean of blues hard and black as the night. * We set sail to the wail, City winds, Sirens, I will show you where bodies turn. * Long ago, Bubbling over on to the soil making clay, Children’s voices on a hot day, Play it again! * Take us back to the beginning, Before heaven and earth, This hell wrapping us, Halo of the womb. * I was born in the first wave, Taking my toes and caressing them up to my ankles, Then knees, Washing me. * We were breaking rocks, Bending steel, Heading to where the sun dies, Where the sun is born. * The Atlantic crossing, Triangle trade, Capes of hope and coasts of gold, Rings of fire. * Black sand, No, Moon, The frontier of boiling sulfur. * Stone, Towers at the bottom of the ocean, Marine, Snow. * What it feels like to drift, Across a slate, Blue, Doldrums, When the wind dies and all we have left is our imagination, The monsters embrace, Night clear, I am remembering the bottom of things, Looking up in wonder, The surface of the ocean, Open water, My body dry, Hundreds drowned, Not a drink in days, Nothing grows here but hair, Pulling the hair out of my face my face, Stowed away, Floating face up. * He is learning something about living, His face is burned into our collective memory, When he was first seen, “I remember what it looked like when they pulled him from the current.” * The land of the free, Feeling the wind, Looking at icebergs, The sun never rising, Black ice, Where we work through permanence, Never dying, Cleansing water, Holy light, Concrete walls. * There are black clouds pumping out of the factory, Near his new home, His face burned into our collective memory, His face screaming the earth is tainted, His face being swallowed by the ocean. * A slave’s funeral. I hear birds screeching, Wondering which one will go next. * Another day asking if the drought will break, The heat rising, Another year in the desert, Another life, Turned to dust, Disintegrating in the wind, Disappearing in the shadows. * “I am born again,” Bring back sugar from the fields to white houses, Blue eyes, Green envy. * Another funeral, Our brother preaching heaven is air conditioning, Hell is high water, Nothing to drink, Black seeping into the ground water. * Another day asking when the rain will come, Our brother says they dammed the rivers for everyone, Fed our family on sweat and tears, Forced labor, Breaking our backs. * The television says that everyone is leaving this place, We are stuck in the line of fire, Melt water to wash away where we were born, The island of our youth is now gone, Foreign aid flooding the market. * Missile silos, Tax shelters, Safe passage, The power of Adam, The plague, The culture war, Death came hungry to this place, On the coast the wind blows hard flinging sand into my eyes, Rip tide pulling out to endless, Black ocean, Loving arms. * It looks like heaven say the boats coming to shore, It looks like heaven say the old men at the docks wrapped in yellow salt, They say it looks like heaven. * We crowd around, Intestines, Getting our cuts before the seagulls come, Before the fights break out, With hell coming in long nets trailing teethed tentacles, Skins mangled by product of a good days work, Taking us to market, Flies on fresh meat, Butchered bodies changing colors, Drowning in dry air, The water that held life Thawed, Leaking wounds, The ballast spilling out where our bowls are filled, Lines crossing. * We bow on our knees to pray, The eastern winds hot breath howling through the night making stones crumble, Smoothing my footprints into the ground. * Another march, The days on this island, My brother is gone and the ocean remembers his example. * Another march, Our island falling, Floating away. * Another march, Rain with the ashes pumped into the sky, Black flowers. * Mayday, Ashes burnt into the earth, Another march. * And now we wash our hands, Make demands to be met with hammers and nails, The arc. * We are going somewhere but no one wants to say, Turn off all the lights and say we are saved, Construct my tomb. * Another march. * In the new moon the spirit fills my body, The dirt under my nails, Us in powdered form. * Fires trace the destruction through the forest, Fires trace the destruction to the ocean, Another march, Morning glory, Flowers, Your pupils studying the effects, Your eyelids burned through, There is a hole in the sky. * In the full moon you can see my spirit leaving my body, Conforming to the ocean, Overboard, The island now ever farther, Another march, Burning all that is behind us as we make our way to the ocean. * Seas changing, Tea, Chocolate, Treasures coming across the ocean, Miles black, Light fading, Gold on distant shores, Land locking blues, Striking like the notes of a guitar, Screeching, Sound of waves breaking over sand, Bars on my windows, Looking out into ocean, Upside down, Fair trade for a place in history, My story, The lives swallowing water, Bound together, Wrists and ankles bleeding, Bare hands, Bare feet, Bare bones under the deck. * Your inheritance are the vice laws, The spoils, The insurance, The assurance of abandoning ship knowing the ocean is deep, Another page in the ledger torn out, The receipt. * I can tell you the story of how I found eternal life, How youth flowed from a flower, How gold couldn’t pave the way for peoples to be born again, How I came for Columbus the Savior, How I came for Father Amerigo, How I came for Saint Magellan, Circumnavigating lost continents, The evils of dark skin, The painted faces more terrible than you can imagine, More savage than the tide, Ripping you from your homes, All gone in the new world. * We begin, Flooding the streets, Expressing ourselves, And the fear you hear in the cities at night is just like in the country side, Looking down to the ocean from the top of a mountain, The sunrise filling the valleys between but not burning off the night from my skin. * I land on your beach, Breaking ground, Smashing the coast to dust, A carpet of embers, The sky opening, Black lightening out of the clouds, I up root your family, Wash away all life, The black fog, Breaking down doors and setting fire to your home, Black eyes, Burning your walls like straw, Making stones levitate, The land sliding, Moving, Like the ocean, Moving, Like water, “Moving like rats on a sinking ship.” * The scars on my face telling priceless vision, Cold stare, Sharp words, I am the cyclone, Breaking stone, I am Medusa’s son, Fire on the ocean swallowing you whole, Reaching all things, The ocean blackness, Abandon all hope, Open your windows and throw everything out into the streets, The smoke thick, The flesh burning to charcoal, To turn to diamonds. * Ground red iron rich soil, The ocean has turned to tears, I follow the water, I set fire to the bridges, First peoples, Second, Nations claimed in war, The moon rising, Our paths crossing, My flesh radiates, Illuminates, Holding stillness to the fire, I do this as love. * Black and infinite, As life, Long falling across continents, Like but not the same, The shape of my footprints, The size of my hands, Our cups, Our plates, Our test, Our time to be alive, Breathing, Kicking, Screaming. * The waves will wash you away, Make it all disappear, Your castles melting in the tide, Sinking deeper, Pacific sun, Atlantic sun, Indian sun, Arctic sun, Southern sun, And now. * Let your spirit melt from us, Salt air, Salt water, Turning stone to dust, I do this as love, As violence has built this land, Wash away the blood in my eyes, See, Set me free, All the weight you are bound to, Surrounds you, Holding you down to the earth, Lines in the sand, Every step is us, Every breath is us, Feel the waves caressing us, Facing the ocean. ***