He creeps into my bedroom
when the night is most alive.
Unafraid, he feels for the walls
that will bring him to my door.
It has been four years since I spat him
from a lip in my womb.
Yet every night, he crawls back in.
The first light pries through the curtains.
He kisses sleep from my eyes
and pinches my lips to seize my first words;
he wants them for himself.
I breathe in the smell of milk
that has never left his forehead.
God, if I could birth this boy again,
I watch him at breakfast.
His face is crushed like an eggshell.
For him, food is slow, fist-under-chin torture.
Mother, let this plate pass over me, he pleads.
At once, he attacks the sweet jar.
He’s a boy soldier.
His face is ever smeared
with chocolate paint.
I watch him from my window.
Bent over like a rainbow,
he scours the garden for things
his fingers are drawn to.
He seeks me bearing gifts:
hollow beetles, strange stones, flattened cans.
I push them back into his metallic hands.
At night, he pulls me down
on my knees and moistens my lips
Good Night, Mum, he says
and walks away
My insides flap about like a wet loincloth.
Come morning, come soon.
Sometimes I wonder
how much longer I shall be here
to bite your hair
with my wooden toothcomb.
I am not afraid
of the freeze of frail fingers;
there is something
romantic about loss.
But I worry about the uneven rhythm
of the diviner’s hand,
the widening waist
that filters sand.
I worry that time
rests its hand on doorknob
and taps the floor
with its iron toe tip.
I must show you
the tricks my mother didn’t teach me;
tell you the tales that never reached me.
But if time will spurn
a mother’s wish
or turn its face away
from a daughter’s need,
remember this, little one:
a life lived well is a wave in flight;
draw out painful night.
(For Toni Kan)
You had to do it, didn’t you?
The night! The creaking bed!
You had to get all that sex
off your stubborn chest.
Bark it out like a dog
baring pink stick!
Poetry in commotion
You had to lay out
your custom-made sex toys,
set them pulsing on every page like rabbits.
Latex and lyric, rubber and rhyme.
O Toni, what will you do?
What will you do when your tales
raise the sisters’ skirts at service?
and pastors want to anoint with other oils?
What will you do
when you’ve wet every teenage boy’s dream
and the girls dive beneath the covers for hoods?
You just had to put all that inside fuck out,
(c) Lola Shoneyin