By Sophie Blumenthal

My mama cries
My father shakes his head and frowns
as if this whole thing is my fault
My fault
If I could wake from this
horrid dream
I would
But this is not a dream
This is the unfortunate series of events
that is my life
My life
My life that I thought would
turn around
It did
But not the way I wanted it to
My life turned into a terrible mess
that no one could clean up
When he knocked on my door
I felt it
I knew I could run away and
Hide
It was like my heart had a mind
But so did my legs
My heart said hide
My legs disagreed
That’s how I got here
Shivering
but not from cold
Not from fear
From the fact that I would never
Again
See my home
Never again
I will never again wake up to
See my sister’s face
I will wake up and work
I will work till I die
I will work for this man
who I have refused to look at
since his gloved hand rapped at
my door
It takes all my effort
but I look up
Slowly
Shiny green boots
Unscathed beige trousers
White shirt
And finally his face
His smile is a sneer
My parents pretend not to notice
I fight back tears
As my parents take his pennies
Slaves cannot cry
Slaves are waste to work
I will go home with this man
And work
Work till I die
My parents do not
Wave
as he grabs my arm
and wrestle me away from
Everything
I know and love
I do not look back
Every day I work
Day and Night
Beating after beating I take
I do not cry
My dark skin I thought
would never go away has turned
Red and Raw
My hands are lifeless
I am now a robot
following the orders of
“Master”
I never again think of
Home or
Happiness
I am now 16, picking cocoa beans
I have lost the will to
Live
I am now 30, picking cocoa
beans
My arms ache
I notice a slight slouch
as I walk
I am now 50 picking cocoa beans
Master whips endlessly
I fail to pick 1,000 beans
The beatings commence
“You piece of dirt!”
Crack!
“You will die working for me!”
Slap!
My surroundings begin to fade
All I see is the glaring
Face
of Master
Devil, I think to myself
Then blackness
Slowly
Slowly my eyelids opened
Slowly did my vision clear
Slowly did feeling return to my
Broken
limbs
But even more slowly did the
realization of my
Crooked
Life
come to me
Master is right
I am a piece of
Dirt
And like dirt will I rot here
Unnoticed
Unappreciated
For my life was spent
Picking cocoa beans