(Photo by Ariel Poster: Women tend trees with the Green Belt Movement in Kenya)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


"Vicissitudes," an underwater sculpture by Jason De Caires Taylor

Sullivan's Island path, photo by Susa Silvermarie

My cousin in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa sends me photos-
     the little town, Cacheu, on the sea,
     quiet, sleepy, on the edge of the world,
     a few boats aligned on worn docks,
     ready for fishing.
But the ghosts there, how they wail!
     The people gathered up, captured,
     the simple bliss of freedom lost forever,
     two hundred and more years ago.
The slaves  were loaded here,
     a human cargo in the hulls of ships
     with all their history, all their futures,
     their families, their gifts, their art.
No matter!  They were loaded into ships,
     packed head-to-foot with utmost efficiency,
     and died in a thousand ways.

Yemaya, Orisha of the sea,
     grieving, grieving for all Her beloveds,
     carried the ships in Her salty waves,
     Her great heart broken.
How Yemaya grieved!  And gave the choice
     to Her beloveds, sick and lost,
     to escape this madness in death with Her,
     Her warm salty waters carrying them away.

The rest, day after suffering day,
     arrived on shore, the other side,
     Sullivan’s Island, the American shore,
     beautiful, green, a place one day
     after generations of suffering and courage
     to remember Africa in language, in family,
     in arts, in food, in music, in Love.
But that day, that time, far from home,
     each one alone, heartsick, in pain,
     and less than human in their captor’s eyes,
trudged up the narrow path,
     at the mercy of the winds,
     to the unknown and horrifying future
     of their lives.

Annelinde Metzner
Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina
June 6, 2012

Slave market in Cacheu fort, photo by Keith Metzner

Boat dock in Cacheu, photo by Keith Metzner

Basement where slaves were kept in Cacheu, Guinea-Bissau

Historical sign on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina

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