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Night-Bound (John Newton) I awoke with a shudder shaken by the howl of wind in the rigging the creak of the hull on the water the rattle-clank of fetters & chains Could it really only be the hollow of the chimney like some fiendish flute carved from an old bone played by my recurring nightmare? For there’s no ship no night-bound ocean no crawling hold despite how sure I was I’d heard the moan of dying slaves Listen I told myself there’s the clock chiming four strokes for the hour & the clack of horse hooves on paving stones The floor doesn’t heave or slope It’s been years since I’ve been at sea yet this torment won’t leave me for I have swallowed the blame & my belly aches with the shame of all I have allowed My outer eyes have grown dim & all I now see is what I coldly saw then Shaken I waken again Was that the cry of a sick child in the night? Surely his mother has gone to comfort him All I can see is the African infant who wept uncontrollably way back when despite a mother’s arms only to be silenced when the angry mate who’d bought them swept him into the sea The mother then cried inconsolably I once was lost in a storm & cried for mercy as cold water poured into the hold Too much a mocker to be so bold but I prayed to the Lord anyway The wood was torn from one side of the boat & they bound me to the helm so I could steer without being washed overboard As the men worked the pumps the cargo shifted & stopped-up the hole 238 Christianity & Literature 64(2) keeping us afloat I once was lost the storm lifted & now I’m found Right then I should have abandoned the slave trade but hadn’t yet made the connection between my new start & what I’d seen in the ships the fear thumb screws whips & degradation I appeal to the Great Searcher of hearts before whom we must all shortly appear for these haunting memories of mine have not grown in my imagination ß D. S. Martin Author biography D.S. Martin has published three poetry collections: So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed, Poiema and Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis. His poems have appeared in such publications as Canadian Literature, The Christian Century, Sojourners and Spiritus. He is the Series Editor for the Poiema Poetry Series from Cascade Books, and is known for his blog Kingdom Poets. Poetry 239 ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2056-5666
Print ISSN
0148-3331
Pages
pp. 238-239
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-04
Open Access
No
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