When he says that he likes your smile
You start thinking that he means more
When he takes your number
Your friends hear that he must be interested
When he WhatsApps you the hearts
Your fears begin to fly away
When he asks to meet at a restaurant
Your friends confirm his interest for him
When he asks how you feel about him
Your heart wants to burst with excitement
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.
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?
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
Her eyes told you to stay away
Why did you come?
The road to heaven is a one-way