Denise Levertov

From the Image-Flow—South Africa 1986

Africa, gigantic slave-ship, not anchored yet not moving,
all hatches battened down, living tormented cargo
visible through dark but transparent sides. The sea
writhing too, but slowly, serpentine. In the vast hold,
vinelike hands reach out from crowded souls, strike sparks
                                                                            from chains,
light fires in what space they make between their bodies:
not the ship only begins to burn,
                                          the viscous depths it rides on
already smoulder.