The First Ship
The first change came in the clouds, light, as if heaven’s gates
were opening to take us in. But we were not taken in.
After we came ashore, we saw the dark woods
and were frightened. Our children wept as we took our first steps,
so many vines and lines of thorns tangling our footway.
The men cut them back with swords. They cut through
inch by inch until we found an open field wet with dusk.
We slept little that first night, dreamed strange shapes and pulsing
shadows of unknown animals, our skin loosed like husks
to the earth. That night we had gathered pieces of that dark forest
for fire. The flames rose so high light outshined
the moon. One woman began to hum a hymn we’d never heard before
and my feet, possessed by a power not my own, began to move.