How not to feel alone within a love

I
Remember all the honey
thick & smooth against your skin
covered by hands steady from
soothing hard loving into dusk

II
Tell him you feel alone
Tell him fear comes to you like memory
brushing softly against your chest
leaning in if you don’t swat quickly

III
Sit still when he calls you love
in a string of words
that unpack your lonely
and leaves them out to dry

IV
Ask about an already laid plan
Watch the sun come to his eyes
the corners of his mouth shift to lift
his face then follow the tilt of his head
the swing of his fingers
the future is coming back to life

V
Play that song from Inside llewyn Davis
Don’t speak – If you missed the train I’m on
start soft when the chorus comes along
a little louder on the next lines – a hundred miles
remember Christmas – a hundred miles
remember May – You can hear the whistle blow
remember all the honey? – a hundred miles

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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.

Order of Events

At first you feel everything
and then nothing.

Then the most terrible sadness
laced with delicate love.
Then a sliver of hope-

maybe it isn’t as bad as it seems
maybe there’s a chord that fits
enough to make it sound like a song.

some happiness
some sadness
more happiness than sadness
then sadness, far from benign
then nothing.

Anger.
burning through your sleeves
burning down the truth you
desperately want to be true

And then you just want to forget
everything.

even the best memories
even the dearest, most beautiful moments
(of your life so far), you want to forget because

for you, they are creating an even
greater grief- having felt.
having seen.
having been.
but you cannot forget

and that in itself
is a tragedy.

Seven reminders

1.    You should recognize when love starts to feel like suffering.
2.    Be careful the excuses you make for the one you love. Especially knowing that if your love for them was taken out of the picture, their actions would be unacceptable.
3.     A lot of terrible things can happen when you forget who you are.
4.    So don’t forget who you are when you give love. Don’t forget you can pull the plug if it’s draining you.
5.     Don’t let one cloud darken your home. Remove the broken light bulb. Leave it empty. The sun will arrive any moment now.
6.     Letting go isn’t as easy as uncurling your fingers. It isn’t as easy as releasing your grip. It is a meticulous undoing.
7.     This will take time. Take as much as you need.

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.

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.

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.

The universe will remember you

Every ground you have walked is sacred ground,
The earth still remembers your feet’s kisses.
Everything you have touched is anointed,
you left remnants of yourself beneath it.

It may have been five years or a week ago,
the universe still remembers all the places you have been.
It has your foot prints stamped on its chest,
It carries your scent in the air.
The wind still remembers the feel of your skin.

The artist on the bus has your face etched In his mind’s eye,
He spent the last two weeks looking for the right colours to paint you in,
A poet saw you cross the street the other day and he wrote the loveliest sonnet about you,
He said you look like a dream and that you had poetry in your walk,
The lady you smiled at told her husband of the beautiful soul she met on the train,
she reminds me a lot of me when i was young” she said. “Her eyes beg for beauty and adventure”.
Alot of strangers have walked past you and wondered what it would be to be a part of your orbit,
The others have shamelessly fallen for you in the simplest way possible.

I just want you to know,
Nothing would be the same without you here.
You are a hurricane.
A tattoo across the earth’s forehead,
You leave signatures of “I was here”
in coffee shops,
at airports,
On pavements

And I know sometimes you feel so small,
Other times, the world is too big
In the midst of the all the faces you meet,
you might feel like you are about to lose yourself.
But the earth remembers you.

I know you worry about leaving this world someday,
You worry if the time you have been allotted will be enough.
You worry if you will leave behind enough to keep you remembered,
You worry if you’re even living at all.

Remember this, child of the galaxies,
There will always be pieces of you floating through time.
Your writing will always be on the walls of life,
Your picture in the earth’s gallery will remain in it’s frame,
The universe will not forget you were here.