When the motor cuts off and the silence of the seas speaks urgent nothings to the cold darkness, I wish to kill my brother. I would muster up what little strength still lurks in my gaunt frame and with one desperate heave I’d topple his snoring ass overboard. The sudden force would rock the overcrowded pirogue, waking the others from their uncomfortable slumber. Startled, they would shine the one flashlight that still works and someone would realize that a body has disappeared. I bet they would look at me, with cutting stares that sting of indifference and mistrust and understanding. They would close their eyelids again, resting their head next to their rusty knife, or stone or whatever impromptu weapon they have befriended on the trip.
He sleeps, and I don’t know how. His buttocks cushioned by the few CFA bills stuffed in his pockets, the continual waves of hunger pains banging at the side of the bottom don’t seem to bother him as much as they do me. To think, he is not even a fisherman like the rest of us, and we trust him to bring us under the cover of night from Saint Louis to Casablanca. I think that is where we are going. I hear the names of far off cities in prayers and mumbled dreams. Here we are, my fisherman intuition drained and depleted like the life from the sea below, knowing full well that the weight of our needs cannot compete against the merciless western waves. .
The motor coughs and rumbles again, its humming second only to that of the floating Russian fish factory towering next to us.
A stream of brackish water trickles down the pavement’s slope and conflates before it kisses the brim of my shoe; and I am thinking of black history month. My vision simultaneously focuses on two streams, divided, yet from the same source, heading in the same direction. I focus my attention on the stream on the right and listen to the sweeping undercurrents of assimilation. It meanders, compelled by the gravel stones of capitalist interests , municipal planning and negative peace. It exhumes the stench of a sweat-stained gym shirt, worn proudly by a gaunt rookie. Relentlessly he reaches for a bar set just out of his reach and insidiously smothered with grease by his his very own teammates. They have no intention of making you captain, bruh. In fact, they don’t want you on the team. The first stream crashes against the clipped wing of decaying pigeon. The other stream quickly rolls by with direction and conviction, galvanized by the pull of frustration and non-conformity. It pushes paternalistic pebbles out of its path, losing a bit of itself at every encounter. It loses steam despite its militant efforts to push through. It exasperates, inches before reaching a nearby puddle.
I inhale and place the butt of a tightly rolled joint at the crest of my ear. Bending down on one knee, I trace my two index fingers along the wet paths of the two black rivers. Each finger then draws intersecting diagonal lines across my forehead. I breathe deeply and swallow the taste of earthy contemplation soaked in my spit. I light up, inhale and extinguish in the plant outside of my office building. Onward.