Cast Over Gorée Island

Hope absent from the Door—

last point of departure,

home to all they’ve known.


The child is exchanged for a

mirror, its mother a bottle of

rum, and the man a gun.


Atlantic sharks that wouldn’t

eat every day or even choose

humans swallow samples.


Taste buds are forever changed,

millions of years reversed;

they grow fat following ships.


Bodies that cross and land

meet a similar fate in trees,

attract buzzards and crows.


But why do clear skies like

St. Kitts’s bouncing off blue

waters make me sick?


Here where we are, snow drips

on our doorstep, falling like the

saddest note carrying our tune.

Mildred K. Barya is a writer from Uganda and Assistant Professor of creative writing and world literature at University of North Carolina at Asheville. Her publications include three poetry books, as well as fiction, creative nonfiction, poems, and hybrids forthcoming or published in Joyland, the Cincinnati Review, the Georgia ReviewAfrican American ReviewNowhere, Ruminate MagazineTin House, Obsidian, Poem-a-Day, Poetry Quarterly, Asymptote, Matters of Feminist Practice Anthology, Prairie Schooner, New Daughters of Africa International AnthologyPer Contra, and Northeast Review. She blogs here and is at work on a collection of nonfiction essays.