Two months to the Caribbean,
our hold crammed tight
with cargo still breathing.
In Lisbon after eight weeks in the bowels
of a slave ship: samples of carmine and indigo,
preserved scale insects, the dye’s dried flower.
Fifteen hundred blocks iron ballast
to steady our galley with Negroes loaded, hull
plangent in rough seas’ throes and tortures.
The right to sell slaves in New Spain accords
with our grand scheme—imagine the returns
in American herbs, the cures and remedies. . . .