Babeth Fonchie: The formation of a scab
Eighteen young Flemish and Dutch authors give a voice to an artefact from the Slavery exhibition at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Babeth Fonchie wrote a poem inspired by old wooden stocks and matching iron shackles.
Wooden stock and six shackles, ca. 1600-1800 © Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
the formation of a scab
the metal is cold but not as frigid
as the people who took you by the scruff
of the neck. veins in the wood
are the notches in you. somewhere between
ocean voyage, display on platforms
and the whistling of the whip,
the epidermis lost its role.
it tends to happen fast the more
you tear open the wound
the more the body
forgets to protect itself, there is
flesh on the bone fearful is the bone.
you’re reduced to veins fit to burst,
rage with nowhere to go, muscles
convulsing, such is
the side effect of a day of graft.
hunched back heat on the mark
that turns to scar – in this generation
and the next, pigment migrating
penetrating the deeper layer of skin,
yet another day that spills over
into the colour of dirt under your nails
in welts and imprints, there’s a reason
rust is red and brown.
these instruments were made
for squeezing man
out of his body.