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The Woman on my Street: Poems by Amina Dauda Oseme

woman-on-my-streetTHE WOMAN ON MY STREET

The swing in her hips,
The fire in her eyes,
The purse of her lips told me different.
(They told me she was dust, but different.)

Every morning like a mini play,
I lurked my windowsill
Wishing for skin like hers,
Hair likes hers,
Teeth like hers.

It was all there in her smile, this pretty woman on my street.
Her face glittered at night.
Her voice melted hearts of dead gods.
She was cultured and refined.
How I dreamed and dreamed so well
Of a day, I would be her.

Then one morning as I did all mornings,
I waited by my windowsill, and watched her by the roadside,
Clad in velvet fit for a queen.

Lips as red as pomegranate
With dazzling white teeth.

I watched her wait by the roadside
For a passer-by’s compliment.
However, the wind blew;
The Sea swept and the algal bloomed
Yet not one word.

Finally, she took matters into her own hands
And stopped a stranger friend
Covered in dust he made dust look white.
Brown– rusty hair, yellow stained teeth-
Shrivelled black nails,
And said

“Haven’t you noticed me?
I’ve been standing here for quite a while.

“How do I look?
Please tell me?”
Does my hair shine to your content?
Does my dress catch your fancy?

Please tell me, I need your opinion.
I’m afraid without it I may die.

Our stranger friend eager to lend his voice
Cocked his neck
And grunted

“Your dress is too bright!
“Not good, Not good”

“Your teeth is the colour of wood ash”
“Very poor hygiene! Very poor!”

“And your hair
Do you think we are in the jungle?
They look like the scattered handwriting of a dead chicken.

Then with a polite grin meant for kings
He continued his journey –
Head up- Chin straight,
While the woman on my street hung herself the next day.


We dined at sunrise dock on fish pepper soup he cooked for us.
I ate,
We laughed,
I called it love.

He spoilt me silly with polished things
Crystal stones; diamonds, pearls -nice things I could never have.
But he adored me more,
I called it love.

He bellowed on bended knee
(that day at the bar) as
He announced to the world
I said yes.

I wept,
We danced,
I called it love.

He shoves me three flights of stairs.
Chokes my neck until I beg.
Bruises my arm; treats me like dirt.
Through it all,
Every day,
I call it love.


To put me out of misery
Would be to take me
Down the market square and leave me there.

For these people, scorched under heat
Chatter as if they have oil wells
Brewing in their wings.

But to see me live
Would mean trips
Down polished rooms,
Dancing on dead nights.
And troubled sleep.
© Amina Dauda Oseme
Image: Siris via Flickr (Cropped)

Amina Dauda Oseme
Amina Dauda Oseme
Amina Dauda Oseme is a lawyer and poet. She lives in Kaduna, Nigeria, where she practices by day and writes at night.


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