The title of the poem itself is significant; a one emotive word impact: “Taint” which means spoil, stain or tarnish, a negative word that introduces the reader to what’s to come. I would also argue that the lay-out of the poem complements this notion; the layout is effectively disorganised with stanzas and lines of different sizes, which can be qualified as visually unsightly.
Her first stanza begins with the word “But” which would usually imply a response to an on-going conversation but the rest of the sentence gives the impression the author is making a plea: ‘But I was stolen by men’
I believe the use of the pronoun at the first person signifies that, however Grace Nichols hasn’t lived the experience narrated in the poem, she adopts the persona of her ancestors as if it did happen to her. The first person will be consistently used throughout the poem and contribute in making the reading/experience much more personal. With the use of strong emotive vocabulary such as “stolen” I believe Grace Nichols wants to show the reader how she felt like a possession. The use of “stolen” rather than “kidnapped” dehumanises and the use of passive tense indicates that it was against her will: she was stolen; things were being done to her and she was not in control. All of which contribute to convey a feeling of defencelessness. Making a pause, a one line gap, she then goes on to say:
‘the colour of my own skin’