Now I Know

by Ileia Thomas (United States of America)

I didn't expect to find Ghana


(Now I know) I didn’t know how hot it was going to be until I stepped foot at the center of the world. I didn’t know that the number of sweat beads, drawn from my temples Nor the hairs standing on my neck and arms Would far exceed, the amount of cocoa and gold That passed through this ghostly hell Could have survived, while some gasped for air And were left there to die. I didn’t know that the color line, of demarcation was drawn In a room as big as a master suite Could hold 500 Africans in a dungeon With excrement, culture, vomit, spirituality, urine, and decency Have now purged from their womb, onto their feet. I didn’t know that the small cemented windows above this dungeon Where food, water, and air was thrown, would be smaller than the window Of opportunity, generation upon generation, stumping our growth I didn’t know there was a women’s cell on this cape coast castle Where Netherlands and Dutch would pick an African woman Bathe her in the captain’s quarters For never were they allowed to bathe on this medieval fantasy island, any other time Yet, if it meant for the captins sick pleasure, then he didn’t mind I didn’t know the door of no return Wasn’t just a scare tactic For my tour guide informed us, any African that stepped foot past this sign Would load onto a boat, and for those that lived in central Africa Some of the water they had seen for the first time And for the last… Their families, their culture, my culture, their land, my land, their religion, my Religion, and my ancestors’ language… I didn’t know. I don’t know Who we could have been, how vast our kingdoms could be To you, only a slave castle, but to us a beginning of genocide and defeat I didn’t know that I stand tall even though I feel weak at the injustice I still see That someone from my distant past could have survived that Survived the middle passage, on a ship that left the coast From that ship onto a plantation, tied up in ropes From that rope some hung, even those we dared call American. I didn’t know that the same blood runs through my veins, also through my fellow Black and brown veins, But, now I know.