ancient scripture

how do we exhume the stories
that have died
under our mothers’ tongues

the veiled accusations in each i love you
the pleas behind every what time will you be home

i’ve watched grandmothers love their men
and learned to listen for the whispers between the lines

i’ve learned that this
[black] love we worship
so often relies on some kinds of lies

wrapped up in the circles that
[black] grandfathers form
with their brothers and their sons

stitched carefully into the lining of
[black] grandmothers’ coats
passed from sisters to daughters

scratched forcefully into the
[black] palms blistering open
over dry stubborn land

tucked into the calloused
[black] hands folded
on soft [black] laps

giving the only kind of love
they know how to give

can it not only be magic
how much a [black] woman’s love
can conceal?

talks between our aunties

i have a lover that’s good to me,
i wear my heart chained the way he likes,
i do love him so,
his favourite colours are black and blue.

he likes to hold my chin when he kisses me,
my ribs crack when i breathe him in,
ii do love him so,
his favourite colours are black and blue.

his hands cradle my wrist like an iron corsage,
his knuckles caress my jaw when his passion rises,
iii do love him so,
his favourite colours are black and blue.

the bathroom floor has pretty pink splotches,
he loves to decorate sometimes,
iiii do love him so,
his favourite colours are black and blue.

my pulse echoes the sound of his footsteps,
my breathing echoes the sound of his cries,
iiiii do love him so,
his favourite colours are black and blue.

if i die in his arms,
it will be by the hand of an angel,
i really do love him so,
his favourite colours are black and blue.

Photo Cred: Yagazie Emezi

ocean song

i ache in every place
your hands have been
feel the distance
like a physical reminder
of how
learning to open
to your honey and milk
without relinquishing hold of myself
had been like collecting water
in a bucket
made of salt crystals
i had protected this softness
for so long
i had forgotten the act
of duality
that the Moon
does not obliterate
the Sun
when Night Skies pay their visits

and last Night
i touched myself
in my mother’s bath tub
gasping sharply
at the memory
of your tongue
of tasting myself
on your teeth
and it Dawned on me –

this girl
does not belong
to her father’s house
anymore.

Photo Cred: @deunivory

Vulnerable

i am soft and i am breaking
tender like breasts or berries dipped in wine
i am drenched and i am heady
with shadows of greys and blacks
i am open like the ocean
whispering whispering whispering
i am light and wavering
far as the magellanic cloud

to love is to be strong they say
to love yourself twice so
strength weighs heavy on these bones
no body shares my load
no body thinks i need it

sometimes i want to fold like origami
sometimes i want to hide away
sometimes i want to know how to need
sometimes i want…

hold me like the most delicate bird
aloft like lily or daisy or virgin in the green
take photographs of my contours
like i’m worthy of your film
or you’re good at make pretend
rain water makes me pure
almost white if it pours hard enough
can you see me behind the sleet?
can you see me behind the sleet?

writer’s block

i have poems lodged in my throat
like a lump of tears or a stubborn ball of pap
corks in my bottles of unthinkables
i taste words that have gone bad
matadors waving with reckless abandon
i choke when i try to yell in my sleep
dreaming of white coats and white dresses
when i smile my teeth are stained bright red
from these battlegrounds:
anxiety – 1
me – 0