What God?

I wonder what gods my ancestors prayed to

and if speaking in tongues is simply a return to languages

that sank to the bottom of the sea,

our deities returning to claim us

like parents whose babies were snatched from their breast

along with our bones

our names

transcribed on the ocean floor

songs our grandmother’s sang in their native tongue

whispered in the waves

What geniuses vanished with the tide

what stories lost

lineages ended abruptly

priceless black cargo

cast overboard

like spoiled and rotted meat

And who hearkens the prayers of my mother now

as she sits hands clasped in fervent prayer

begging mercy

before an image of the pale-skinned

blue-eyed man that introduced her to the concept of sin

dooming her offspring to customs not their own,

traditions formed out of fear and desperation

ripped from scriptures

translated by colonizers

and force fed

until we mistook scraps for soul food

singing all the while

What a friend we have in Jesus.