passing through

I heard bullets leave particles as they pass through fabric. They tend to cling for decades or more. The night you left, you shot through fabric on the clothesline with a force that left me breathless. I had been waiting for months for you to come back for me. It rained and parched and bellowed in all that time.

Bracing for impact. Your words rolled off the edge nonstop until you were empty and I was full. Full of questions I didn’t dare ask. Full of questions I know I should have asked. I remember silence digging its heels into my spine when everything was being taken from me. I remember because I was on the floor in the dark and I was shaking from all the breaking.

That didn’t stop your leaving. When has it ever? When has an already bleeding body stopped a bullet from cutting through new flesh? When has it stopped a shoot to kill? The particles revolved around my dizzy bones, seeped into my blood, compounded my love and pinned me further to the ground.

I was never meant to be your home. Twelve months of manipulating a tourniquet and changing bandages and I finally understand that I was somewhat of a lingering, a place to lodge, and you were merely passing through.

Two West African Girls Talk Love

Adora: Whenever I think I have love figured out, something (or someone) brings me back to the drawing board. I love that you’re in a healthy relationship so I’ll put you on the spot. What is love, and do you think you’ve found it?

Esther: Love is good. In spite of the variations of love I have encountered, one thing is unchanging – Love is good. Like you, I go to the drawing board often and i’m back there again. This time, this love is honest. This love sheds itself to be known. This love has shown scars I didn’t know I carried and is sturdy in ways I didn’t know I needed. Do I think i’ve found it? I think so. This feels a lot like the real deal. What does your drawing board say about love?

Adora: I find it interesting that you said your current love is honest. Honesty was never something I actively looked for in love, because I viewed it as a given. Life has shown me that an honest love is key. Love should not make me want to filter my thoughts, nor should I have to read between the lines when it speaks. I am reluctantly coming to terms with this: love is a necessary but insufficient factor. I no longer harbor lofty notions of a love that conquers all, and it breaks my heart – this logic business; this cruel loss of my sense of wonder. I am officially an adult. Of course, I need commitment, the knowing that my love will show up, again, and again. That it will choose me every morning, and that on most mornings it will not feel like a choice. Do you think love can exist without commitment?

Esther: You are right to think of honesty as a given. The best part of this new honesty is that it is kind even when the subject matter is one that could easily bruise. It is one that allows for growth after careful examination of facts and feelings. I have had to come to terms with the insufficiency of love as well and it sucks that love really doesn’t conquer all. That you could give love as best you can, more than you have ever given in your entire life and still lose. It is a painful truth. And the wonder? I think I may have lost a bit of that too. A thing could be so wonderful and yet we must leave room for the complexities of the human heart because it changes things in significant ways. As for commitment, I think love cannot exist without it. This life is a whirlwind of things and you kinda need someone who is willing to stand with you in it and through it as often as they need to. That’s a huge amount of expectation and trust to put on a person. It makes me nervous. What scares you the most about love?

Adora: Falling out of love. Or worse yet, heartbreak. Falling out of love is its own form of heartbreak. I have a low pain tolerance so I don’t do heartbreak. So far, I have only been enchanted by people who expressed a healthy dose of affection towards me. It doesn’t guarantee an absence of heartbreak but it increases the odds of a good epilogue. Love bothers me because I can’t control for all of the unpredictability that comes with my partner’s humanity. A part of me is convinced I’d only find true happiness if my partner is John Legend meets Steph Curry meets Harry Styles (i.e. perfection). Is there a trait of yours that sometimes sets you back in relationships?

Esther: Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any significant trait. I mean, I am far from perfect and I get scared a lot. Actually… I think I have one. I find that at the beginning of something good, sometimes I feel the need to run (in the opposite direction). I think this is my mind’s way of protecting me from the possibility of something going wrong eventually. If I don’t go any further, getting hurt isn’t an option. But I always ask myself, What if this is doesn’t hurt? What if it is better than you could ever dream? Of course, no one knows how anything will turn out, we can only hope it goes in our favour. I strongly believe that there is nothing that can happen (to me) that I will not survive. And I mean, if push comes to shove, i’ll get a poem or two out of it lol and it’ll all be alright. Have you ever had to move on from a person? What was the hardest part?

Adora: If push comes to shove, i’ll get a poem or two out of it. I love you, Esther. I’m a bit of a “hopeless romantic.” I believe in soul mates and happy endings. I must confess, I’m the farthest thing from a serial dater. I think it comes with being an introvert and my natural inclination to keep myself to myself. The hardest person to move on from was my post-high school boyfriend. I think it was really tough because there was no one else crazy enough to take me to iHop at 2am for ice cream and pancakes. I swear 75% of my heart break stemmed from my missing our midnight food hunts. So in line with my penchant for romance, favorite date of all time?

Esther: Me too! I’m pretty optimistic and I used to think I wasn’t a hopeless romantic but I am. Not a serial dater either so I can be a little too careful when it comes to these things (I see why we are friends lol). I see why moving on from your post-high school boyfriend would be hard. Night time hunger pangs would always be associated with him and that’s just stressful. I think eating and food hunting together is so intimate or maybe i’m just weird haha. My favourite date has to be my most recent date. We had a little moment (i call our arguments moments) on our way to the restaurant but by the time we got seated, we were laughing and teasing like nothing happened. The food was delicious and way too much. I put our phones away so we could really be present in the moment. We talked about everything we could think of. Oh, we were sitting next to this beautiful fireplace and it was perfect. After dinner, we went to get drinks at a bar and like a true feminist, I offered to pay for drinks lol. SIS! I DIDN’T KNOW DRINKS WERE SO EXPENSIVE, especially the Patrone Gold (obviously never getting shots again). It was a fun night and I forgot my toms so I had to wear my heels the whole time. Ugh.

Adora: You are adorable. I hear you on the feminist struggle. I try to be super mindful of my bank account, but I’m all for treating him when you can because he is my little princess, haha. Catching up with you is my favorite thing. Let’s do this again?

Esther: Lol yes, men are princesses too. I’ve enjoyed this catch up session. Let’s definitely do this again.

Young Love

Young love
owns the bodies of those who
go about the task of

carving a shelter on the
altar of desire and naked
affection. The kind that

grows like the night sky
claiming a territory
already weak at its knees.

Neither of us knew what lay
grunting in its keep. No promise
of earlier days could protect from

the falling away of
hands that swore to hold
everything, especially themselves.

We are only as brave
as the songs we play in loops,
as the stories we tell ourselves when
yearning for a different truth.

Everything is worthy of saving,
if we trust enough to try. We don’t
have to wait for a sign anymore.
Let’s save ourselves for now.

Layers

this is about us. the layers we come in. how after a couple months. depending on closeness or comfort. we shed. revealing skin. soft like cotton candy. skin. rough to touch. and as the days hum into months. we unravel. layer after layer. slowly. quickly. slow ly. then it stops. and we are down to slivers. it ends. and we are naked. so we begin a journey back to old places. picking up. and putting on. again and again. buckling and smoothening. only to take them off for someone new.

Wind Mills

The ones who stayed
and braved the storm (together)

looked a lot like us
(had we dared to survive).
In love and leaning against
each other’s spine. Holding back
the wind that came to rip away.

The force with which their tragedy
arrived met them ill prepared.
A force so strong it swept
them to surrender. Now,

they are on their bellies
hanging on to the crook of
each other’s hands. Praying
with their eyes closed and
veins strained because

there isn’t much choice when
the pillar collapses nor is there
a way to keep the ground from
shaking. There is only the need to
survive and the blades are rotating

with enough conviction to generate
a spark that will transcend pain.
I see them in the middle of this
cyclone rotating clockwise

I see them tattered, when it calms,
still holding on by the fingertips.

the other side of truth

the truth isn’t always something we can grasp.
not because it isn’t real but because
sometimes the truth has thorns that will
journey through your defences. the truth
can in fact call forth blood.

the truth isn’t always kind or fair or soft
but we ask for it
we demand for it
as if it is meant to bring us warmth
as if it is supposed to bring us comfort
sometimes the truth is that lump in your throat
that song on the radio
that hand around your neck
sometimes the truth arrives and we cannot stomach it
because it’s nothing like we have imagined.

sometimes the truth breaks us
into pieces. Sometimes,
it doesn’t set us free.

Survival 101

Perhaps this is why the world refuses to stand still.
Perhaps being in constant motion is the only thing
keeping us from being crushed
by the weight of everything we lose.
Perhaps this is why we mustn’t stop
even when everything hurts
even after the world around us has taken on new colour –
a shade darker that we have ever felt
Perhaps this is when we force our lungs
to hold more air, our hearts to carry
a little more tenderness. Perhaps
the only way we can survive
is by living right through it.

odd days

on the first
there will be breaths that feel
like betrayal even though
you are walking through fields
of freshly cut grass and
sprouting sunflowers

on the third
the moon will seem
like a bloody show off
because the clouds you are under
are darker than your lover’s skin

the fifteenth will be a reminder
of that last kiss, the depths
it reached, of all the ways you’ve
had to fold your heart to make it fit

the twenty third will be you running
at full speed
against the wind on memory lane
not wanting to remember
not trying to forget

the thirty first is pure sadness
sinking further and further into mourning
wondering how much longer before
you hit the ground

or find answers.

talk to you soon

These nights look a lot like drinking the three day old strawberry banana juice sitting on our dresser and wondering why you still haven’t called. The crackers are not as crunchy as they were when we bought them three weeks ago but they still taste good. Isn’t that how it is with memory? The old still feels good even when it has lost a few details. The nutrition facts on the pack says 100 calories per three crackers, I have eaten five and I know I should stop before the guilt sets in.

It is 2:30am and I cannot understand why sadness feels so heavy after midnight or why you have refused to let me in.

Journal Entry #2: Closure

I do not think closure exists. In terms of a relationship, I mean. Even if a person tells you why they didn’t choose you, it doesn’t make it any more bearable. It doesn’t give the feeling of finality that it should. At first, it might give you an illusion of finality but ultimately, all it does is give you one more thing to analyze over and over.

I think that there are some things that will hurt forever for longer than they should. And maybe the hurt will reduce in intensity over time but there will be things that you will think about and still have that unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t happy or that you haven’t moved on, there are just some things that will have that effect on you; people that will always have that effect on you and that’s okay.

E.

we make do

We are sitting in a living room
smaller than what we are used to
The kitchen is a short L
with red pans and wooden spatulas
Horizontal shadow lines stretch across
reflecting the shutters in the night light
The zing of electricity leaves no room
for actual silence but we make do

We are islands away from our original home
Closer to the water than we are used to
but our jokes are the same. The same people
based, accent commanding stories of the
comings and goings of children and men
Of women who have nothing but their husband’s
names and post-baby bodies

The sky is getting darker, the room
a little cooler than when we began but
we are still taken by the stunning reflection
of people being people. Still hurdled over laughing
at what is left of our memories. There are only
little streaks of light sipping through the window now
but we make do. We always make do.

Twenty Twelve

The togetherness of crisp
summer days, afternoons spent laughing and
picnics at the beach. The unexpected
drop ins we welcomed. Late night jamming to
afrobeat and the sound of familiar voices.

We talked politics, the insatiable
Lagos life, the rush, the quickening
pulse, trading stories of police men
swinging loaded guns (in our faces).

There were spicy chicken wings. Liquor store
spendings- Jack Daniels. Merlot. Moet. Some
pulped orange juice and wedding party get-togethers.

Dress fittings. Secret dance practice
in the basement. Left over blue and white
candy from the wedding. Thanksgiving dinner
that actually involved Turkey and mashed potatoes.
The boys didn’t like it.

We made plans and cellphone videos.
Road trips to Edmonton. Sing-alongs to Davido’s Ekuro.
A steady trail of job applications. The long-distance
marriages. Snowstorms and Long-awaited victories.
The awe. The serenity. The magic of it all.

Chasing shadows

Last night I caught your heart
travelling to where he once lived
Tiptoeing across the sidewalks
attempting to leave only shadows behind

I saw the silk ribbon
(that should have stopped you)
laying in the moonlight
A symbol of rebellion- the proof
that our hearts are the wildest
creatures to ever roam this earth

There is a whiff of you in the air
Heart thumping against your pride
Your out-breath still lingers
Like the smell of cheap alcohol

Three knocks and
a voice asking to know your name
Your silence yells into the wind
“You should not be here”

Take the day off, will you?
Tame what is left of your desires.