The Undertaker

Ellen June Wright

(for Angela, enslaved, Jamestown, Virginia, 1619)

is simply a young slave 
on a plantation allowed 
to take a morning to dig 

a hole in a far-off corner 
away from the graveyard 
big enough and deep enough

to bury a Black body 
not out of respect for life 
but to prevent disease 

and cut the stench 
and if a cross is laid on 
the mound of dirt

Black body shrouded
Black body interred
unboxed, finally at rest

and if a cross is permitted 
it weathers with 
sun and rain and years 

acquires a silvery-gray 
patina, splinters, warps 
decomposes and leaves 

an unmarked grave