I still smell the foam of the sea they made me cross.
The night, I can’t remember it.
The ocean itself could not remember it.
But I don’t forget the first gull I made out in the distance.
High, the clouds, like innocent eye-witnesses.
Perhaps I have not forgotten my lost coast,
nor my ancestral language.
The left me here and here I have lived.
And because I worked like an animal,
here I came to be born.
How many Mandinga epics did I look to for strength.
His Worship bought me in a public square.
I embroidered His Worship’s coat and bore him a male child.
My son had no name.
And His Worship died at the hands of an impeccable English lord.
This is the land where I suffered
mouth-in-the-dust and the lash.
I rode the length of all its rivers.
Under its sun I sowed seeds, gathered crops,
but did not eat the harvests.
A slave barracks was my house.
I myself brought stones to raise it up,
but I sang to the natural rhythm of native birds.
I rose up.
In this same land I touched the wet blood
and decayed bones of many others,
brought to this land, or not, the same as I.
I no longer imagined the road to Guinea.
Was it to Guinea? To Benin?
To Madagascar? Or Cape Verde?