First day of school, i remember seeing boys and girls flooding into open gates dressed in identical white shirts, peeking through red sweaters
some boasting jackets they had on, on top of them
no doubt because mothers, like mine, were convinced we’d be climbing an ice mountain that morning
in the north pole’s eternal winter
but even under all that wool, I could feel goosebumps forming on my skin
my teeth began to chatter
huge moth like creatures in my tummy started to come out of their cocoons.
and I imagined them as I sat in the car, staring out the window
saw them lightly flutter newly found wings, slowly embracing new ability
as they mastered skill, like wild bulls chasing after red cape, they flapped about uncontrollably with dumbo ear sized wings
then, without warning, rushing up through my body out came all my breakfast and there, on the floor of the car, lay my hot chocolate, honey infused pancake mess
as mummy turned to me, I could already feel tingling sensation on my bottom from slap I would surely receive
ashamed of what I’d done, a single tear fell down side of my face,
I could taste bile on my tongue as words fell out my mouth,,
“I’m sorry mummy”.
I remember apology being enough
mummy, without speaking a word, stepped out of the car, opened my door for me
wiped the sides of my mouth
and ushered me out with forgiveness.
I shuffled to the edge of the seat, grabbed my backpack, jumped out onto squishy wet grass and felt the moths settle
felt fear settle
and let excitement, set in.
When I was 5, I thought I could do anything,
and I was convinced that I was superman.
Between 6 and 14 I went from swinging on monkey bars, running around in adventureland, and playing bano with boys
to singing omina, playing hop scotch, and trying on make up with girls
my worries shifted from how long play time would last to
how I could make boys think I am the sun
whether my sweat smelled bad
how short my shorts were, and whether the boys noticed
I wondered (sometimes), when appearance started to matter so much,
thought about how I just wanted to run around in adventureland again with a cape over my shoulders and S on my chest
wondered why daddy was looking at other women like he should be looking at mummy
fantasised about my wedding to ice cool Michael Moon
wondered why my parents fought so much, and weren’t speaking to each other except about us
I drew my wedding dress, picked what song I’d walk down the aisle in, wrote my childrens names into stars
and dreamed of the day I’d become another’s
At 15, I learned that the world is dark, and I have darkness in me.
broken and lustful, I am sinner.
the devil rests in my loins waiting to match me up with his demons
demons who roam when the sun’s up – kiss the sunset and dance dusk in.
I learned that we are made from the same dust, you and I
made to do good and be good
but we are all tortured souls,
so sometimes, good people do bad things, and bad people do good things,
which means maybe I’ve been living the wrong way, loving the wrong way.
maybe love isn’t enough,
and faith is weak
hope whispers in dark corners, drawing out stardust and blowing into existence some type of fiery shine that sparks redemption
the kind that saves – and comes in the form of blue eyed, pale skinned, long blonde wavy haired – man
but what does white Jesus know about my melanated life?
I learned darkness is considered curse
my sun burnt skin isn’t beautiful to everyone
and my history books lied to me
told me my suffering was past – oppression defeated,
but I – woman – African – have no claim to earth from which I came
no claim to my body
I was created to act as vessel for life but never to command it
always waiting for completion by man
I am object to be bought, traded, used, abused, spat upon, groped, raped, ignored, hushed, silenced
with voice locked in stomach
tongue scratching at throat to speak truth
truth which will not free, but confine me to slut, mad, whore, witch, nameless,
my children will never have my name.
heartache is more than not getting to go for that party all my friends get to go to
friendships aren’t forever
love is complicated – painful even
pain is sometimes relief –
razor blades replace teddy bears blunts become crutch to lean on
earth to stand on
standing is all I have heart to do,
me is all I have strength to be so
maybe that can set me free
18, I learned about hippies, vagabonds, and free spirits
mine found solace in listless winds
life in the ether – flowed just like water, delicate and powerful,
her mighty storms and floods wasting away fragile fickle things
these bodies we worship – are temporary
but this spirit is forever
existing in everything,
I am consciousness realised.
untethered from darkness, my spirit convinced my body it was feather –
weightless enough to float with clouds
light enough to feel warmth of the sun caress my soul – the air painting sky beneath me liberty
and my body was away.
away from hatred and fear – hurting and pain
clouds made me child again.
hope was no longer alien to me,
and open sky coloured the depths of me
I turned 21 a little over a month ago, and I’m learning there is little about life that is simple
there is beauty in lonely, and this year, I get to love me
live with ugly out,
unapologetically raw and vulnerable to a life of uncertainty
I’m learning that I am enough
and other, is only opportunity to improve upon my oneness.
21 will be a beautiful mess of wonder.
24 cut me open
where 23 was cocoon and my spirit raw but protected
by ignorance or
the lack of understanding – a hide
24 is the shell being depleted by
here, in this raw – exposed,
I feel free
& trapped by
a slave to them
no longer hidden
no choice but honesty
to guide living