For all the faith in argument in principle in reason
for all the books you hand me bid me read
for all in the dark I pretend
for all the pursuit of equality of righteousness and good
for all the rights of man the vindication of woman
for all in the dark I pretend we are
for all the moral cause abolition the struggle for freedom
for all in the dark I pretend we are just
for all the history of heroes and foes the victors and the vanquished
for all the talk and talk and talk
for all in the dark I pretend we are just one soul
what would it mean at last to see
not Love not Truth not Beauty but who
has been in your house who sleeping in your bed?
This poem is from Shara McCallum’s forthcoming book No Ruined Stone, an imagined account of the Scottish poet Robert Burns’s planned migration to Jamaica for a job that involved supervising enslaved Africans on a plantation.