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At The Door of No Return

August 23, 2011

by Elizabeth Bodien

Elmina Slave Castle, Cape Coast, Ghana

In the white of my skin, I come to your castle,
you who sweltered in the dark of its dungeon,
you who were plucked from sugar cane fields,
sold away from all that is home.

Your castle still stands, white-washed and gleaming,
a dazzle beside the deep, blood-blue sea.
Massive walls, no windows, ghosts stink underneath
paint that hides vomit, excrement, brandings.

Here is the yard you were dragged through for show.
He stood up by the church to pick out his favorites.
You could not see him. You could not look skyward.
You stumbled, blinded, unused to the bright.

In the night, you could feel him close as he crushed you,
the weight of his belly, sea-stench of his beard,
before you were pushed through door-slit to death ship,
chained as chattel for the new world.

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Elizabeth Bodien (website) lives near Hawk Mountain, Pennsylvania. Her poetry appears in The Fourth River, Watershed, The Litchfield Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Mad Poets Review, and Cimarron Review, among other publications, and her chapbooks include the award-winning Plumb Lines (Plan B Press 2008), Rough Terrain: Notes of an Undutiful Daughter (FootHills Publishing 2010), and Endpapers (Finishing Line Press 2011).

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