Saturday Nights on 22nd Street

The floor still has little sand pits from when we danced with our shoes on after dinner on Saturday nights, Remember?

I always wore dresses; flowery ones with thin belts around the waist. You always had your sleeves folded right beneath your elbow and never wore black. You once said that black was the worst color for any party. Every Saturday night with you was a party.

Usually, I finished eating first but I would sit and watch you lift the fork to your mouth, wine to your lips, my hand to your skin. I sat there counting the number of good things I must have done without ever knowing, things that somehow brought you to me as a reward.

We didn’t do the dishes until Sunday morning. I dumped them in the sink while you hummed your way to our music station to play some music. You always played Dido’s “Here with me” first. Somehow, with some wine in our blood it seemed like the perfect song to start the second half of the night. We swayed in each other’s arms silently (as if trying to get in the zone), my arms around your neck, your hands around my waist, classic! You smelled like dark musk and alcohol, so masculine, my man.

By the second verse, you are tracing the curves of my face and telling me how much you love me without saying a word. By pre-chorus, we are laughing and gulping down more wine. We start singing at the top of our lungs once it hits the chorus, “I won’t gooooo. I won’t sleep. I can’t breatheeee until you’re resting here with me.” Your wine glass has become your microphone and you are putting on a full performance and I am laughing and singing between breaths. We love this song. It was the song we listened to your first night at my apartment.

The next set of songs has us taking turns performing. We aren’t trying to be decent or anything. We are dancing with every inch of our bodies, sweating and attempting to out dance each other. The room feels so much smaller because we keep bumping into ourselves and kissing every chance we get, and then Whitney Houston’s “I wanna dance with somebody” comes on.

We take a few steps away from each other and begin the choreography we did at our wedding. It’s been five years and we still remember every step. You have the widest grin on your face and I can tell exactly what you’re thinking, “I’m about to kill this choreo.” My hair is falling out of its ruffle but I am so into our dance, it doesn’t even matter. We get to the bridge and in unison start singing “Don’t you wanna dance? With me bebe. Don’t you wanna dance with me boy? Hey. Don’t you wanna dance with me bebe?” I am inching closer and closer to you, making every move count, twisting and twirling into your arms.

I have completely forgotten how terrible the last week has been. Finding out that we can’t try for a baby (just yet) is absolutely devastating and you do not remember that we might get kicked out of our house in exactly three weeks. In spite of it all, I am thinking the same thing I think every Saturday night. Something along the lines of “ I never ever want this night to end.”

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.

Journal Entry #1: On feeling like you are missing out

(I am starting a series of posts called Journal Entry. These will be excerpts of the things I write in my journal on a variety of topics 🙂 )

I really want to live the best life possible. In fact, I am consumed with the idea of it. I want to do things that matter, things that I love, things that make me happy. I want to learn, grow and have experiences but lately I always feel like I am missing out.

Here’s a thing: Strive to live as much as you can. Try things. Do things. I cannot promise that you will not be missing out on things but let me tell you, things and people will be missing out on you too. Don’t get jealous or envious. You have your own collection of experiences. Remember this is your journey. Focus on it. Don’t compare it to anyone else’s. As long as you are doing the best you can to make everyday count, you are fine. You will not be missing out on anything that is meant for you. You are brilliant and beautiful and you are doing so well already.

E.

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.

15 lessons from my creative writing class

1. The moment you have readers, your writing will improve.
2. Read your work out loud.
3. Do not over modify.
4. In poetry, lines are a unit of action i.e. individual lines matter.
5. Don’t preach. Don’t explain.
6. Don’t settle for knocking on the door, go in.
7. Trust your readers to figure it out. Give them action and detail.
8. You go further- don’t settle for the easy or the obvious.
9. You must be willing to take risks.
10. Something has to be at stake when you write.
11. Know what your impulse (purpose) is and let everything you write come back to that impulse.
12. Don’t take criticism personally. If people do not respond to your work the way you want them to, it’s okay.
13. You have the biggest say as to what you work is or should be.
14. Do not underestimate the power of good editing.
15. Enjoy your writing- the process, the failures, the successes.

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.

No revival

We are the ones who love
out of habit. Love,
not because we still feel
its fire but because
there was once a fire.

We are the ones who hold
on to reverie. The ones who
stayed too long. The ones
with alcoves of old kisses and
a fist of crumbly passion.

We are the ones they talk about
when the kids are grown and
the memories begin to sink,
the ones who smell like thirty years before,
the fire that should have never burn out.

old home

it is the back
of my grandmother’s hands,
her veins,
the way they lean into
her skin, as if they cannot
remember what it means to
stand-alone.

it is the wooden
bench, mastering its balance
with a broken ankle,
weighed down by
the gossip and buttocks of
market women.

it is my grandmother
serving afang so thick
it could have only been
made with extra
love and a little water.

it is the mosquitoes
commencing choir
practice just before
we start to eat.

it is the burn
on our finger tips as
We dig into the fufu

it is the fireflies taking
photographs. It is

my father’s childhood home.

The places that feel

{Listen to audio as you read}

I feel it in my chest mostly,
The loss.
The way it scrubs away
All i have known to be true,
As though the last three years
Have been a chapter from a
Tattered novel in the back seat
Of my father’s 504.

I feel it in my fingers,
The digging,
The longing for fertile soil to take root,
The erosion that overtook all we had sown,
As if we never even stood a chance.

I thought i would feel in my bones too.
The unruly quake that comes from hanging on too long,
From losing something you thought you had loved enough,
The way reality smacks you in the face without warning,
Reminding you that history doesn’t always satisfy.

I feel it in the gulf of my spine sometimes,
My shoulders, giving in to the weight,
The one time you said I was beautiful,
Out of the blue, oh, How could i forget?

I feel it all because when i was 8,
There was a fire
In our backyard at three in the morning,
It could have burned the only home
I had ever known to the ground.
But we woke up just in time to save it.

Two weeks ago,
There was another fire,
One we both take responsibility for.
It started in the walls of our hearts
and travelled to the tip of our tongues.
We woke
when all that remained was the smoke.
Tell me, Do you feel it too?
The heat.
The regret.
Can you taste it?