the currency is in the collective

we used to braid
cowry shells into
our hair and dump
solid gold bricks
into the waters below

we don’t have use for
ones and zeros dancing
across a black slab
glossing an ancient
value system

tinged paper
marked by
dead presidents
stored away to tend to the fire;
and the round discs
relics sitting in the palm
of your hands can you smell
the souring metal?

this currency is in the collective
in the ways we treat each other
make room for each other’s
growth — those who choose
solitude may hold wealth
but only for so long

after a while the weight
snaps bone
you ever held
on to precious gifts
too long?

the old heads still sit
in the sickness of scarcity
our currency never fades
we must use it
to support the collective
the co-conspirator
to gravity — scales of values
in authentic deed-doing,
the laws of the Universe
knows the hearts of the sincere

wealth accumulation
results in death

those not interested in the trade
float, float on,
nothing keeps them docked
and more often than not
they drift to the Sun
burn up and explode
matter flecks into the sky
and descends on those who choose love
as survival

every once in a while
the remains of Floaters
materialize as a kiss
on melanated skin

the Sun god, she’s unforgiving
is her redemption
a debt worth clearing?

when our babies survive, they’ll say

we are birthed
in the aroma of rot

loam feels good
under toes —
a world of clay and sediment
singing beneath us.

we hear soils with soles
never grew up with no shoes
calloused skin-peeled scabs
crusting over heels backs still
tender enough to listen, listen

we activate a soil portal
spirals from toeprints
absorb free energy
from Earth’s surface,

we like the dark
the moist
the earthy,
germination feels eternal 
as it always does.

we be more than this, 
under a fierce sun
our bodies remind us:
not uncommon
to graft parts of ourselves
into plant-life — we were once 
co-conspirators with the many 

creatures, plants, minerals
rock and dirt while Earth, 
she absorbs
our electrons &
our anxieties & pains, 
strong enough to hold 
all of it, wise enough to 
remind us we need
to hold some for ourselves.

she tongues our grit
shifts our shape loose
handing down 
our heirloomed root system

the weight of underground 
remembrance compresses
into our spines and when we 
emerge, we do so
in extravagant dark radiance.

Whitney French is a writer and multidisciplinary artist. She is a self-described Black futurist, middle child-troublemaker committed to centreing stories from Black folks and QTBIPOC communities around memory, loss, technology and nature. Her writing has appeared in the Puritan Magazine, ARC Poetry, GEIST, WATER Magazine, CBC Books and Quill & Quire. Currently, she lives in Toronto. More: