text by Thylias Moss | sung by A. J. Sojola | video by Mallory Catlett, based on a photograph by Virginia McKnight of people she identifies as "tenants on the J. P. Love plantation in Tchula, Mississippi"

I haven’t seen the sea before
but it must be easy to love

because even without ever seeing it before
I call the blown-open cotton a sea,
I call moving through the rows
my attempt to walk on rough water.

It’s not that the cotton seems watery
or that each cotton seed hair is like
a separate one of the sparkles the sun makes
when its light bounces in moving water,

—though it is like that
now that I think about it.

It’s just how big
the cotton is. This small field

seems bigger than the sky,
and is the sky for ants. It’s just

how the cotton carries you,
delivers you on a rocky shore,
shipwrecks you,

strands you

even though you can’t argue
against what good it does

because you have been taken up in
the persuasion of a garment, of a cocoon.

I’ve been thinking about this.
While I’m working, I think
about this. My mind is the part of me
that gets the least rest.

It’s never quiet;
there’s always the hum
inside of me, the hive free inside me
making me think about honey, dipping
all my thoughts into honey

and even the thoughts honey won’t
stick to have been in the honey,
have been next to honey so the knowledge
of honey is on them and the knowledge
all by itself is sweet enough.

I think about that, think how thinking
can be sweet enough

for now. Thinking about, thinking about
so much that is buried in the cotton.

Few months after we planted it,
I called the pink blooms of cotton before it ripened
an assault of endless sunset on the ocean.

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