The Auction

Outside the ship the auction starts

With smell of blood and rotted hearts:

“Oh, you stand there gal,

Don’t you make a twitch,

Stand on that block,

With your blackness out,

And with your belly hanging down,

Stand right up straight

while the bidders shout.”

“See, how she bears it all with pretty eyes and braver smile despite the pain of irons on,”

The auctioneer with gladsome lies told to the crowd that’s gathered there,

He makes the claims at every time the auction square has been filled up,

To end the slave’s one only hope,

As darkened hearts made darker souls,

They are not tears of joy that come from standing in the morning’s rain.

And then the auctioneer does speak in whispered evil slow report:

He tells his buyers in grins of greed just what they’ll bid and bargain for,

And when they’ve done and dressed them all in gingham clothes,

And calicoes,

They’ll work and cook ‘til hands grow raw,

And what is more new slaves might grow,

His guarantees are Nature’s own,

That tears will lead to love somehow and couplings and the cries newborn,

He holds the frightened fearful waif and senseless speaks to all but her,

“She’ll nurse your babies and

nurse her own,

And pick until the day is done,”

And then in rising hortator’s style,

the fateful auctioneer describes,

“See them fine features so deep and dark,

That’s raw Beauty ‘tis finely drawn,

Her tears won’t mean a thing too much,

She’s just a little tired is all,

The boat just docked that brought her here,

and as you know the ride’s real long.”

And then he pulled her lips to show inside her mouth,

so all up close could plainly see before the bids would leave their lips,

“Once you gets home and gets ‘em broke,

you just remove them chains and lock,

And next you know,

She’s a’world’s best friend,”

He grinned as if his practice proved to teach her the hope of false reprieve,

“Look! See them teeth,

See that big wide grin.

I tell you so!

You ain’t got to do a thing.”

And now the auctioneer began to wax more bold,

and tell by brazen promises contrived,

Since his conceits were limitless,

“But look at her just sweet as pie and honeydew picked in early morn,

And once you gets her to flare and jump,

Why you jes’ believe,

She might dance a step!”

He winked and nodded and tipped his hat,

In his but barely disguised dance,

“Why, your master, he’ll just be so pleased,

He might just want to buy her Twice!”

He laughed a hollow gallows laugh of sending Liberty to death,

By flesh in pounds he knew to count,

And had by habit well measured out,

“But just today!

You gets to bid!

So rest at ease,

‘cause the price’s the same,

I ain’t a gonna charge you twice!”

And then he winked to close the sale and started soon to let the bids,

But one more lecherous thing came first,

Before the bidding would begin,

“But the things you do fore you gets home is just between us quality,”

And then he winked with an earnest smile long learned in used depravity,

and remorseless mocks he made before,

“I won’t tell your Missus what the price you paid,”

And then in satisfied unspoken boast,

He turned as if in triumph won, Over eternal spirit crushed,

And then he shouted his office loud,

In order to proclaim all’s done,

By bargain sealed in human blood,

“Done. Sold!

So write her down and take her home,”

The auctioneer slammed his gavel down thus signaling she had been sold to a strange and leering purchaser.

But as the lock he handed forth inside he pondered now for awhile,

“But for the life of me

This lock feels cold.”

“But for the gold, but for the gold.”

-Albert Turner Goins