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.

Advertisements

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?

They used to be boys.

{listen to audio as you read :)}

I wonder about the boys
who wake early to rip the air out of lungs,
Boys, because they are still their mother’s sons,
Boys, because they once sat at their father’s feet.

I wonder what they were like when they were younger,
Did they play football barefeet while the sun kissed their backs?
Did they dance in the rain or play in its puddles?
or run around in singlets and shorts belting out laughs?
Did they bruise their knees climbing guava trees?
Did the northern wind wrap them in its calm?
I wonder if they ever wished on stars
or played police and thief under the moonlight ?

I wonder if they ever thought about the future,
Did they know that they would
One day shake the foundations of an entire nation?
Did they know that they would be the reason why
sons never see their fathers again?
and mothers never hear their daughters laugh?
Did they know that they would,like forgotten treasure,
bury fear in the hearts of the young and old alike?
Did they know that they would stop thousands of hearts from beating?

I wonder if they pray to God at night,
Do they ask for forgiveness for taking away his children’s tomorrow?
Do they know there are people whose knees are sore from praying
that life cuts open their hearts to put the same amount of pain they have put out?
Do they know we are still waiting for our girls?
The ones they took in broad daylight from their school
and that their mothers are left with sobs knotted in their throats and sand in their hands?
I want to know because we have wailed and prayed and marched,
and all we have left are hissing lungs and faint breath,
We are tired and shaken,
afraid to leave our houses,
afraid to go to bus stations or malls,
afraid to even visit the house of God.

You know,
they used to be boys; our boys,
until they waged war on us,
They used to be ours
until they stained our streets with blood,
Now I wonder if they know a bomb lays where their hearts once stood,
I wonder if they know that beneath the mess they have made,
lay our brothers and our sisters,
limbs ripped off, flesh hanging loose,
beneath the rubble there are no tribes or religion,
no northerners or southerners, only children.
God’s children.

This is how we learned to love

I know that life was hard for you
And maybe you didn’t know better.
I know that to you, Love meant
Wearing your masculinity like a shield,
Exuding strength and sometimes yelling at your wife,
Nobody taught you how to be gentle,
Nobody taught you that love could be soft and vulnerable.
I see how hard you have tried to defy history,
But we both know how hard it is
To teach an old dog new tricks,
If it is any consolation (at all), I hope you know
I learned the depth of unconditional love
By loving you.

What the world doesn’t tell you

They don’t tell you how much it hurts
when your heart is ripped from your sleeve,
Or how badly your teeth chatter and body shivers,
When you put yourself “out there” and a storm comes.

They don’t teach you how to deal with
the ache of misbelonging;
the pain of rejection;
the soreness of losing;
They don’t tell you because maybe telling, is not enough.

They don’t teach you because you cannot teach a person
how to deal with pain they have not endured,
They don’t tell you because
the warmth of belonging;
the joy of acceptance;
the fulfillment of succeeding; are all incredibly satisfying.
And really, what kind of life would you be living
if the fear of failure bound you by your feet?

I promise you,
If you can just get off the floor after a bad fall,
If you can dust off the dirt and
Find peace as your bruises heal,
If you can come to the understanding that
Nothing will teach you as thoroughly as experience will,
You will find flowers growing on the path you once walked.

The journey to unloving

It was desire coupled with fear,
It was reality and a dire need for freedom,
It was the sheer need for some honest answers,
The uncanny exhaustion of uncertainty and
The insolent diplomacy of feelings.
These were the things that stirred me away from my illusions,
These were the things that led me back home.

Band-aid for the past

On the days
when the choices
you have made,
hover over you
like a dark cloud,
and your belly feels like
a tornado is coming,
May you remember
that all the scars
and bruises
you have sustained
in this war against comfort zones
and conformity
are signs that you are living.
You are doing exactly
what you were put here
to do. Let this be
your comfort.

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.