Somebody had to be the first
to amass the proof from slaveholders’ mouths:
twenty thousand newspapers from the South,
the unthinking testimony parsed,
scissored carefully into strips. Lips pursed,
the sisters cut out words as if words were cloth
for dresses, their fingers dark with the newsprint’s truth,
though it was not half the truth, or the worst.
“I burnt her with a hot iron.” “Has one ear slit.”
“Ran away—has two or three scars made by a knife.”
“Has no toes on his left foot.” “Has buckshot in his calf.”
The scissors lisping, I have seen it. I have seen it.
Their path from Charleston the path the scissors traversed—
Let it be accursed. Let it be accursed.