Wait

When he says that he likes your smile

You start thinking that he means more

 

Wait

 

When he takes your number

Your friends hear that he must be interested

 

Wait

 

When he WhatsApps you the hearts

Your fears begin to fly away

 

Wait

 

When he asks to meet at a restaurant

Your friends confirm his interest for him

 

Wait

 

When he asks how you feel about him

Your heart wants to burst with excitement

 

Wait

 

Wait and wait until he thinks that you are not interested in him

Wait and wait until he stops initiating things

Wait and wait for your own leadership to emerge

Wait and wait for your own existence to shake so much you grab the phone and demand to see him and tell him what you have been feeling before it kills you.

Stop me from talking

I want to listen

To sit and hear you talk

I want to be told things

 

But I can’t stop myself from talking

I can’t help but respond to everything I hear

Teach me how to keep quiet, how to listen without responding

 

You are telling me about when you were spanked

I do not know why I have to tell you about my own spanking experience

The time that man looked under your skirt

I do not know where the story of that girl in the neighbourhood who was molested comes from.

 

Teach me to listen

I now do not know how you ended up on the boat to Italy

Because my tongue spilled half-known stories of exes who migrated.

 

I ask you to pick up the story from where you left it, where I do not remember

You oblige but forget to tell me not to take what looks like your thunder before it gathers steam

And so I start talking about postcolonialism and all the isms that take us away from your story.

 

Does imprisonment help people who do not know how to control their tongues?

Is there a school for listening?

Where do those who can’t listen go to learn how to listen?

Six Apologies

I am sorry that our parents did not teach us to leave when the love runs out

I am sorry that leaving abusive unions has become a revolutionary act

I am sorry that the world does not like it when we choose ourselves

I am sorry that we have to forgive ourselves for wanting peace

I am sorry that we have to be shamed for preferring ourselves

I am sorry that I have to apologise for your right to love you