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Slave trader's walk

by Patricia Douse

You brought my ancestors,
In the cruise ship Hannibal,
From West Africa to the Windies –
Those who survived. You said
That they should not be despised
For their colour for it was not
Their fault. As slave-ship captains
Go, you were probably not all that
Bad, remembering – as you strolled,
In your retirement, through gentle
Brecknock fields – each one of those
Diseased black corpses whom you
Threw overboard as food for sharks.

Captain Phillips, did you have a good
Memory for faces, especially for those
That float forever the pitiless Atlantic?
You should not be begrudged your
Morning walks, nor despised for your
Inhumanity, nor criticised for making
Your great fortune from trafficking
In human lives. You were a product of
Your times. It just was not your fault.

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