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Children of Water* by Deshawn McKinney

so then we’ll be children!

playground for ourselves

for once, tread the waters—

for there is something about water,

it's secret, swallowed perhaps,

jaw of foam and rusted seaweed

browned, perhaps, with the people,

perhaps, that have made it

their own. Imagine the call,

salvation an unspoken trunk rattle

of the teeth, oh how the sirens riff! Imagine the drifting

down, becoming the only light below

the Mesopelagic, setting a table

in the soot, soft enough to pencil

Genesis with every curl of the toes,

bold letters all bowlegged in the dark,

safe from judgment and wondering

how anyone could believe Heaven

was a sky haven when the ocean

saved so many—

reclaim the life haloed from a ship’s deck

snatch our waves from the enamel

of the sharks (like the sharks we were

induced to be weapon from birth,

serrated skin &

evolving with the hunt,


to survive

& we have survived

to cash our stolen years:

find in us a youth

like a child

that makes better

of the parent,

and drown content.

*“To give liberty to, or rather, to abandon persons whose habits have been formed in slavery is like abandoning children,” - Thomas Jefferson


Deshawn McKinney is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His art, grounded in hip-hop,

explores the delicate balance of existence, and he holds an MA in Poetry from the University of East Anglia. His debut chapbook, father forgive me, was published in 2021 by Black Sunflowers Poetry Press.


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