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Your bronze statue stands and gestures in the Muse Museum located in the cradle of humankind. The namesake of the museum, the statue extends twelve feet skyward reaching her right arm toward the ceiling and bearing her torch with its eternal flame. In the five feet of her base burns the continuous pyre of World Bank debt. Her large Sarah Baartman buttocks glisten as the blistering sun pours through the skylight overhead. It was the Muse who got rid of the haphazard colonial borders imposed upon you. It was the Muse who gathered all of us descendants from the diaspora and brought us finally home. At the hour when the sun is directly overhead, she comes to life and recounts this history. Near her fiery base, the crowds sporting Bermuda shorts and sun visors gather with smartphones in hand. Their sandalled feet shuffle over the sands of the museum floor as they anxiously take photos of the huge statue with the phones they must purchase once a month in order to keep up with the latest technological innovations.
Due to the drying up of the oceans by global warming, the tourists do not have to travel far. The perennial drought and the gravitational pull of the sinking sands of the Sahara forced the continents to shift and reunite into your one large geographic body of tight globalism. The purpose of life for all humans has become the avoidance of being sucked into the terminal hole of the Sahara Desert.
To the right of the Muse in an adjacent room is the Tropical Forest display, the last of its kind on earth. The forest is encased in a plexiglass through which the tourists stare and fantasize about what life was like with lush greenery. They gaze upon the miniature trees, palms, and waterfalls. A tiny oscillating fan creates a breeze to move the palms as birds fly and flitter tree to tree. The shiny diamonds in the minuscule mines recall your now depleted minerals and chemical elements. After clawing for the headphones that hang from the ceiling, the tourists listen to the distinct calls of the tropical birds and the rush of the tiny river that is a tribute to both the lost Congo and the Amazon of Brazil. Other visitors snatch at the oxygen masks located along the walls so they can take in breaths of fresh forest air.
The cotton and sugar pavilions are the biggest draw. Lines of tourists wait nervously at the door of either room clutching their tickets of admittance. The wonders on display depict the end of your utopia of communal living with nature and the beginning of the industrial revolution. Spotlights shine directly on the cotton gin in one room and the sugar mill in the other. The walls display how we worked in agriculture in the formerly, far-off continents. Mostly emaciated and with backs bents, we picked the cotton and cut the sugar stalks beneath the sun that in comparison to today’s solar plasma would be considered mild. The audio on the tourists’ headphones plays our recorded moans as well as our spontaneous moments of breaking out in song. With flashes from the camera phones incessant, the tourists take photo after photo of us, our talents, and the wonders on exhibit.
Born in Los Angeles, Audrey Shipp is an essayist and poet whose most recent writing appears in "Linden Avenue Literary Journal," August 2018 and "A Gathering Together," Spring 2018. Her bilingual and trilingual poetry appeared in "Americas Review (Arte-Publico Press)" which was formerly published by the University of Houston. She teaches English and ESL at a public high school in Los Angeles.
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