After five on a winter day

We almost miss your anger
when we walk through the door.

The air cracks like a shell
as we busy ourselves unbuttoning
jackets and untying shoe laces.
The air is still cracking
as we oven-roast vegetables
and pan-grill chicken for supper.

The air cracks a little more
as I hear her in the darkness
softly tell her mother
she would take away the roof
over your head if you weren’t
blood.

I fall asleep thinking of redemption,
of the ways we could restore,
of things to do to save us,
of how this could be forgiven
but never forgotten.

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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.”

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 seeping 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.