The Door Of No Return

I wrote this poem about Elmina Castle in Ghana, a place with a doorway often labelled as “The Door of No Return” for the simple reason that this was the last thing slaves saw before they were shipped off to Brazil or the Caribbean.

It’s inspired by Grace Nichols’ “Price We Pay for the Sun” in her book The Fat Black Woman’s Poems. Elmina Castle’s history dates back to colonial times, as it changed hands between the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British.


This monument,
not picture postcards
to send home, or travel
magazine landscapes.

This castle,
more real than stories –
more than stone,
more than blood
and bone
and the thud
of horse’s hooves.

The skin of slaves
flap like flags
in the breeze. Who knows
what kind of tale this is?
The wind constantly
whipping their salty tears
like hurricanes sifting sand.

Slavery is the price we pay
for the sky to stop talking,
but all I see is broken glass.

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