You’re outside, wearing your pink flowy dress,
the beads in your hair clinking softly against each other.
You’re twirling and twirling
and you can feel yourself start to lose balance
but you continue to twirl anyway.
The sun is shining. The grass tickles your feet. Breeze carries your arms.
You can be nothing but happy at 4.
And if there’s anywhere you’re going, you’re stumbling.
The lights still don’t point out the guilty, not even today,
meaning you still don’t understand what is going on. Why this happens.
But you know what a puncture is.
You know the sound of a punch from the pretty voice of a singing doll.
You know that cigarettes mean death and some other immoral thing.
You know that your mother’s breasts belong to your father and you know
what the punishment for defiance is but still,
you do not want your mother beaten.
So today you’re your even littler sister’s enemy.
You would knock her into the dirt if it called for it,
if she is stupid enough as to get the fork for your father.
All you hear is your mother’s high cry for help.
But you don’t cry.
Not one tear drops from your eyes.
Instead, you open your head and remove the straws in it
and throw it at your mother,
so she might cushion the effect of the landing.
Now you’re 16 and not quite as dumb.
And you wish this could be a clean-cut, one-sided story but unfortunately it is not.
But unfortunately for who? Your father? You?
Or this dark haired boy currently wrapping his arms around you and
begging you to accept the love he feels
so strongly for you,
this boy kissing the space behind your ears?
You won’t let this go to ruin, you can’t let this go to ruin.
This man who looks relievingly unlike your father comes and says
Tell me about the dreams, darling. Tell me about the dreams.
His arms are open, biceps bulging, and you’re deluded into thinking
a house on fire is better than a storm outside.
How naïve. Are you naïve? You’re smarter than this. You’re 21 and know not to victim blame. Not to blame your own damn self.
But look, we’re jumping into the future. Now all you see is a one big arm
and then another long one, longing to hold you.
Never your father, not ever your father.
And you wouldn’t be your mother and ruin this for yourself either.
A dark room, a dark house, a loose woman.
So loose, things simply slip through all the holes in you
To never again come out.
Take for instance, this husband of yours.
No man would want his fingers in that nest of a head,
Those saggy bags you call breasts.
(No man wants to drown.)
Nothing will impede hunger, do you not know this?
But, keep at those windows, stare at the stars.
The husband you await is in a brothel, drinking from a shimmery, lustrous lady.
And finally, you’re now something of a freak.
You shrink at nature’s touch. You stifle yourself.
It’s your own body that repulses you;
there are no enemies hidden anywhere,
everyone knows this.
Suddenly the wind sounds like it’s wailing,
suddenly you’re no longer the shallow girl that thinks only of the sweet things.
You’re an overnight poet now, and you want to testify something.
You always have something to say, and it’s never happy.
But there are tragedies and there are tragedies and there are tragedies.
It simply is the order of things.
Whose judgement is it to make?
Whose dirge is it to sing?
Omotoyosi Salami is a poet and writer living in Lagos, Nigeria. A lot of her writing is influenced by the various inequalities that exist in her country. She has been published in Vagabond City Lit, Constellate Lit, and Brittle Paper. If you do not find her reading a book, you will find her writing something in her phone’s Notes app.
She is on Twitter as @HM_Omotoyosi.
Image via Pixabay