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Healing Bath

I stood naked on the National Mall

and surrendered my faith

out of desperation 


For too long I had carried around my sufferings 

and the sins of my ancestors 

rested on my shoulders like a cursed cross 

to which I clung as they rotted my core


I wore the scars and white tar 

as a symbol of my wretched legacy 

Vanilla

the epitome of White privilege

White guilt

raised in segregation 

mocking the runaways and mopani worms

a toddler spewing racist words 

carried on the backs of African women


I never realized that forgiveness was not meant to free the sinners

It was meant to free the hands of the inflicted 

from carrying the heavy burdens of trauma 

to have the strength to build a better future 


We repeated nine prayers

in the name of God and the Universe 

A stranger bathed me in healing waters


As I felt the welcome chill run down my spine

caressing my skin 

I felt weightless

and awoke transported

Empowered by release 


I am not defined by my past

I am not defined by my family

I am not defined by my ancestors 


For ten years I had sung the same song

longing to be free

only to find the key to freedom

had been in my hand all along 

waiting to be awoken


© 2023 Marieke de Koker

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