From the ferry’s top deck, a picturesqueness I hadn’t seen elsewhere, the water like when the sun streams through a piece of blue glass, a shade I often wear on my fingers and toes, the instant serenity of that color, or the stateliness of the French colonial architecture, the buildings tastefully distressed by time; in short, it was an idyll in a country still climbing its way out, but how to reconcile such beauty with the 20 million brought here, then kept days, weeks, months waiting for the airless hull that would bear them west? In la Maison des Esclaves, everywhere rooms carved in stone, each no bigger than my master bath, rooms for les hommes, les femmes, les enfants, children as young as two, rooms for men under sixty kilos to be fattened up for sale, tiny rooms where a person can’t fully stand for les recalcitrants. And to think that the owners of this house lived just upstairs, that some family went about their daily lives floating a few feet above hundreds of souls in irons. The House of Slaves was one of twenty-eight on Gorée Island, Gorée one of too many markets on the west coast of Africa. In more than 300 years, six million died while waiting on this spit of land not even one kilometer long— to avoid contagion, at the first sign of sickness they would throw you into the sea, the waters teeming with teeth. According to the UN, today there are 36 million slaves world-wide; yesterday in Texas, ten people died in the back of a truck. On Gorée, I stood in front of the Door of No Return, the door through which millions were shunted away from their homeland in chains. I stood in the doorway facing the sea, listening to the sound of water lapping the shore. Then I turned and walked back into the dark.