STOLEN FIRE, Wendi White

Stolen Fire
by Wendi White

Each of us, turning a key, flipping a switch, uses the energy of 89 slaves. 
— Andrew Nikiforuk

You said, dear Father, that Monticello could not keep
its fields plowed, its white dome lifted above our valley,
its clocks wound and wine chilled without them. But I 
have been to Connecticut and there the farms do not
harvest their grain on the backs of slaves. 

There women are not sorted by the shape of their hips
into breeding stock or sent to ground, spilling their lives
into the earth or onto bloodied bed sheets after
birthing babes for the auction block. You said,
slavery was a problem for another age to solve….

This letter swirls through centuries, recursive currents
of time that eddy from Jefferson’s desk to my screen
as I read how we warm ourselves with stolen fire.

Driven by pistons, unfettered from ground, washed
with warm water from our taps, the meat we never
slaughter appears on our plates flown from afar.
We cannot imagine our field’s being plowed,
our goods delivered any other way.

Some say carbon is a problem another age must solve…
as storm clouds gather, seas rise, another reef is lost,
but have we fully reckoned the cost?  Have we reckoned
the blood we’ll spill for every drop we draw?
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About barkingsycamores 183 Articles
Barking Sycamores is a literary journal entirely edited and operated by queer neurodivergent people of color. We publish poetry, artwork, short fiction (beginning with Issue 3), creative nonfiction (beginning with Issue 8), and hybrid genre work (beginning with Issue 9) by emerging and established neurodivergent writers as well as essays on neurodiversity and literature and book reviews (beginning with Issue 10).

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