You first set foot on our fertile plains,
centuries and more ago. We were
scenery to you
but our home you trod underfoot.
‘Ere long you,
you great travellers grew tired
of us existing free,
in our own beds. You began to steal.
Your rough hands grabbed us,
us from the world. We were slung
in cages, ferried across borders
and released in palaces: smelled,
but not heard. Seen,
Valued for our dark skin
and gritty strength you bought,
then forgot and went back for more.
Soon no longer a gift for kings
you reduced us to common.
For the weakest among us,
a copper penny, or trade in
wheat or favours. A slab of gold
for our strongest,
brothers and sisters.
With time we’ve spread. No longer
an Ethiopian oddity,
and grow across the world.
But even time
can’t erode the chains,
the cages. We’re still beaten,
scalded at the whims of masters.
You are not above reproach.
not even once
given pause to think
of my life, my history
but it’s because of you I no longer rest
on the warm ground,
under a bright sun
So go ahead. Crush me.
Stir me, and drink your morning coffee.