Poetry

Eden: Poems by Biodun Idowu

Our Happy Place

In this place we call love
I make new discoveries
I’m yet to determine if
they’re good or bad.
My heart pounds with
the excitement of it all.

In this place we call love
I approach the door with
a mix of exciting fear.
I am unsure of how unforgiving
the clasp of your emotions will be.
There is trepidation in these feet.

In this place you call love
The furnishings are bright, warm.
The clangs of security chain, cold.
I am the smiling resident whose
stay might end up unwilling.
Should I call into the night for help?

In this place you call love
I tread carefully, afraid to jolt
your emotions, live gingerly with your
tendencies to rage passionately.
It is love that rules you, moves you
to hurt, bruise and scare.

In this place, I look through bars of
cold comfort, open my mouth for a song,
nothing comes, so I purse my lips to whisper
instead into the night, maybe Sense will hear me.
Instruct you in loving me, if not
Set me free.

===================

Eden

I don’t know how, despite
the signs, I married him.

Osa bo le gbe mi
Se mi bo se bami

His love is tight.
I stay here by decree
of his telling glance. His
warning touch of perceived endearment.
I daren’t move, gritted smiles.
Laughter torn from deep in my soul,
laughter, which follows the mandate:
Mirth or pain.

Osa bo le gbe mi
Se mi bo se bami

His love is hard.
His soft word placed in my twisted ear,
‘This hurts me more than you’
I’m a child, waiting certain punishment, then
the apologies flood my lap, as my
punisher blames regretful tears on me.
My fault for being not so right
‘See what I make him do?’

Osa bo le gbe mi
Se mi bo se bami

His love is deep.
Colours banned from my palette
Gold is sallow, silver is crass
The query of who’s mating dance I wish to attract
makes the peace of drabness comforting.
I am a bird of paradise made for one
garden, the flaming swords are for my protection.
Does it matter that my feathers droop and fall?

Osa bo le gbe mi
Se mi bo se bami

His love is constant.
Vows are taken seriously here,
there is only one god in this house and he’s not above.
I walk and hear clinking gently
reminding me of no escape.
I am a gold-chained prisoner.
This union is till death, accident-prone,
my sure feet unsteady, I  will walk into
another doorknob, trip down another stair.
I am certain of this truth.

Osa bo le gbe mi
J’owo se mi bo se bami

His love will be death.

I don’t know why, despite
the signs, I married him.

===================

Introducing…

Let it be in the dark
This first time
Cloak shrouding me
Gently introducing you to
My identity
There are different names
To be called by
Another descends and
Tonight…
My feet waiver from the
Passing of one to the other.

The past I was sure of
This present beckons with
Tender fronds swishing softly
In front of me.
Let clarity be this
I am afraid. Not of you.
Me. I fear a new rage
Discontent, a new curse
These scars, me again to
Stand , subject to another’s
Scrutiny, questions, always
A wonder.
So let this first uncovering
Be enclosed with darkness
Light filtering in, beam
By beam till I am
Ready for light.

===================

Stream

I have to write my mind
Swirling as he breathes
He breathes loud and raspy
It grates, it grates, then stops
I’m adjusted to it, it’s become soothing.

I am hesitant
My finger to my lips, hush him
In our shared secret
His eyes twinkle and his hands
Stay immersed in tomatoes and mushrooms
His beard invites tickles and I want
To link my tongue through his hoop.

His touch, warm, friendly
My mind is a vast kingdom
Nobody but children reign there
I desire to find new dreams.

===================

Besetting

A)    Skin.
Smooth builds into
rough, melds into dips
depths, curves.
Lovely. Musk, sweat
primal coma, secret
places invoke, invite.

B)     Hair.
Flutter, flick
lightly sting, caress
heavy glides over.
Sheen. Digging in,
drag lightly, let
pain collide by pleasure.

C)     Caves.
Moist promise warmth.
Strength plunge deep
Dark, pan-ic, still
stroke, stride, slide
call plump, plunde
Sink. Lift. Take-off.

===================

Down the Nile

You said ‘look into my eyes’ and
I wondered what I was meant to see.
You held me in your arms, kissed me,
light, heavy, deep and fleeting.
I melted, flowed, formed and hid my face.
You see, I was afraid, I am afraid
of what you can do to me with
your hands, lips, your mind.
I am so afraid of losing who I am.

You said stay in my arms, I said
‘Hold me, hold me now and just…hold me’
You did.

There are no answers for where we’ll be
tomorrow but right here, right now
I feel alright.
That’s good enough for me.
Is it good enough for you?
We could be sailing past each other next week,
on different ships, to different lands.
For this moment that I ask you
for the simplest mundane thing
and you obeyed.

I am sold, to this, out to this.
For today, for each day that it works and
when the tides come in and your ship
has got to set sail.
I will be waving fondly from mine
Shedding no tears, holding tight
the moment you took something mundane,
made it special and gave it to me.

===================

Confession

I confess

I crave your touch like
A silken pillow on a warm night.
A shower in the heat.
A cold drink, tall in the searing sun.
I crave.

I desire your lips like
A blessing after prayer.
Butter on bread with milky tea.
Warmth somehow in cold night.
I desire.

I yearn for you like
A gust of wind on a too warm face.
Relief taking off tight shoes.
Cocoa, marshmallow topped for a broken heart.
I yearn for.

I need your love like
Breathing in and out.
Opening my eyes to see.
Placing my hand on my chest finding
reassuring beats promising safety,
within your arms.
I need.

I confess.

===================

The call

Liberty is calling me
In Sham’s voice
‘Come, cleave with me
Let us be one’

Freedom is calling me
Sham’s voice breaks my walls
My shackles of selfishness fall
I am walking

Ominira calls me ‘beloved’
I raise my head, once again
For the third time.

Sham will not betray me
The wind, the earth and
water say it
I believe and break into a sprint.

===================

This Thing

This thing is deep, rich
It makes like butter, warm places
Happy feelings; joy and fear
at the same time, unequal measures.
Smiling, fearing, it is all
heady and I love it.

This thing is dark, light
It makes like red wine, chocolate
Nice things that make you smile and
your pockets bleed
It is beautiful, radiant
Disturbing, cheesy
Not me, all of me.

It is a misty place
It beckons me to its quiet edge.
There are no promises, no theatrics
Just a simple ‘come’.
This invitation is potent,
enticing. I am of two minds, yet
I find my toes tingling in eager
response, gently levitating to follow.

===================

Granny’s Peppers

It was a simple question she asked, `how did you come by that name’?
It took me back to multi-flowered gardens and scented kitchens. Soft toilet-rolls, a lumpy, bouncy bed. The private smell of her room that filled me with excitement and joy. The aroma of cake and puff-puffs, as she passed me the bowl to lick clean.
I’m a child again.

I remember sitting on the swing, reading the numerous books, she placed in
my eager hands. Epanimondas and the Egg. Lizzie Lies a Lot. Joseph and the Master’s Wife. Her voice sing-song as she commands `Go and travel’
For a long time, I wasn’t sure what she meant. Dutifully, I take it from her,
sit in the swing under the huge palm, reaching places in my mind.
I’m a child again.

I remember sitting in my `special room’. Large mirrors and numerous boxes of clothes. They swamped me as she was very tall, almost a giant in my tiny eyes.
I would sway in her boubous, talk posh wearing her hats, long strings of pearls.
She was a lady, a very beautiful, elegant, lively lady and she was mine.
I’m a child again.

As she scolds me for being naughty, telling me to wash my hands.
Bow my head, say grace, before attacking the food `like a savage!’
Her twinkling eyes, musical voice tempering, the harshness of her words.
Her special treat of ice-cream and cake for her special `tata’
I’m a child again.

As she let me listen in to her gossip with Mrs Savage as they exchange tales
of whose children married who; who’s stopped coming to church, who’s passed on.
In the evenings, we would talk about the Muppets, music, clothes, fashion,
Dr. Huxtable and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. She never spoke to me like a child
We spoke like we were friends and I loved it.
I remember lamp-lit parties on her vast front porch, me in my little cute dress, hiding
behind her big one, away from adults who would pinch my cheeks and call me `Granny’s Peppers’
I’m a child again.

Sorrow claims my whimpering, quivering
Lips as I remember her last words to me
`I am tired…’

She wasn’t always smiling.
Frejon on her plate, three seats empty,
Me, clattering on my plate, making noise to
Cover the silence.
She glances at me with indulgence, calls the maid
Asks her to bring the fresh fish.
She adds another to my almost empty plate
I eagerly scoop a piece into my greedy mouth.
It’s from her I learnt to love fish.
We dine, but we’re not so happy
I don’t know why she’s not but
she is sad and for her, so am I.

She always wasn’t elegant.
Old age crippling her hip
She, my tall giant, reduced to
Holding a cane, having to use the
downstairs toilet.
White furtively, then boldly intruding
her black tight curls, her hands shaking
more as she mixed the dough for
my puff-puffs.
I sit within the rails of the banister
waiting to catch her if she falls.
She never did. At night, I put her
cane to a corner, lie on the floor for
I don’t want her to wake up alone
in the dark. Sleeping with a hesitant heart.
Waiting.

She wasn’t always talking.
Moody silences in front of the TV,
Then sudden outbursts of erratic.
In respectful understanding, I sit on the
pouffe, close, watching with the corners of my eyes.
Her feet crackling dry, always.
I get a jar of Vaseline, rub her bunioned feet.
She likes it, it kills the morose in her and
She laughs as Dr. Huxtable tries to hide
doughnut from his wife.
I relax, for tonight will be peaceful
for her. Balmy, warm, with the white
fan blowing gently. Tomorrow,
we might have puff-puffs.

She wasn’t there
I came in, singing her name
`Granma’! I waited to hear her rich, amber voice sing back
`Peppers!’ Nothing.
Instead her picture gazed at me in
silent anticipation of my understanding that
she had said her goodbyes.
`I am tired’ in those words, she wrapped
her love, duty, hope and belief,
placed it in my hands urging me to travel.
Loosening the heavy threads of grief from my feet.
I still have them wrapped up inside me.
I fight each day to take them on a further day,
I never want to be tired.

(I’m part of a women’s writing group and we have been talking about identity and in particular names. This took me to my godmother, Mrs. Taiwo Sasegbon and how much she influenced me. So I wrote this).

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(c) Biodun Idowu

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