Charleston, South Carolina

The houses lining the battery stare
at the sea, large windows

watching the boats creep by.
Two centuries ago the cargo

came chained at the ankles,
smelling of vomit and salt.

Now cruise ships dump out
mobs of tourists

who take pictures of themselves
beside the columned porches.

Everything is kept just
like it must have been:

wisteria hanging from a trellis,
ivy climbing a gate,

scenes from Gone with the Wind
before war kicked the city in.

Human bondage has been erased
like a typo from the monuments,

John C. Calhoun’s bronze cast the last word
towering 115 feet above the city.

—Holly Karapetkova