Charlotte Eriksson: On Brokenness.

6 months, 2 weeks, 4 days,
and I still don’t know which month it was then
or what day it is now.
Blurred out lines
from hangovers
to coffee
Another vagabond
lost to love.

4am, alone and on my way;
these are my finest moments.
I scrub my skin
to rid me from
you
and I still don’t know why I cried.
It was just something in the way you
took my heart
and rearranged my
insides
and I couldn’t recognise
the emptiness you left me with when
you were done. Maybe you
thought my insides would fit
better this way, look
better this way,
to you and us and all
the rest.
But then you must have changed your mind
or made a wrong
because, why did you
leave?

6 months, 2 weeks, 4 days,
and I still don’t know which month it was then
or what day it is now.
I replace cafés with crowded bars
and empty roads with broken bottles
and this town is healing me slowly but
still not slow or fast enough because
there’s no right way to do this.
There is no right way to do this.

–Charlotte Eriksson.

**

Everything reminds you of everything. You take out the old photos, and delete the messages; get rid of everything– black, and white, and blue and red. Red, blood red is how you feel, red with rage, and hurt, and longing, and ache and despair. But you don’t want to feel anything anymore– so you take out all the souvenirs and memories and burn them under the stark cold dark of night. And you return home, unfeeling; staring at the bare space and listening in on the echo of silence. And you turn up the radio, and listen to uptown funk, and have some cold beer, and watch some football, and you go to bed. You are fine now. But you turn and toss, and turn and toss; you can’t find your sleep. So you sit up, your heart stretched in apathy. You laugh, very very very loud. Your eyes water, and your throat parches, but you keep laughing. Until slowly, but surely, your laughter trickles into loud grief. You let it. For pain demands to be felt. And you realise, one day you’ll have no more tears to cry, and you’ll be fine. But until then, you no longer try to hold it back.

Until then, you decide– the only way to heal, is to feel.

____

Here’s for everyone breaking, or broken. ❤

PS: “Pain demands to be felt”- Quote culled from John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars.

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2016.

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How I loved you.

I start a fire in the hearth and seat by it, cradling myself; warming thoughts of you that are almost running cold in my mind. In my heart. But I loved you, didn’t I? The flames entwine deliciously before my eyes and I envy and hate them at the same time. That used to be our bodies in sync, it used to be our rhythm. Slow, sweet, gentle thrusts; silent moans that made the nights glow; hungry, tongue-ful mouthful confessions; olive eyes, scarlet lips… Now I tear my mind away from the memory of your face. It is too painful, it is too sad.

I had been there the other day, watching you tear apart at the seams while she (mum) laid in peaceful pain. I saw you, differently. Raw, broken, shattered, different. I was afraid I didn’t know you anymore. Those eyes were not the same that ogled my breasts at night. Those lips were not the same that knew my body by name… it was maddening thinking about you like that. So maybe you needed something but that something was not me. I felt too un-enough to contain your pain. What were the right words or right things to do? Touch you? Stroke you? My head said “just be there”, but how? Every step I tried taking towards you took me farther away. I broke. I cried. I prayed. For you, for me, for us. You didn’t hear me, but I did. I wanted to be there; to be the heroine, the one that catches the grenade or throws herself in front of a train for you. But I didn’t know how.

So in your eyes, I ran away. And even now, I carry the guilt from the thoughts of me I mirror in your mind. I blooming ran away! Some say I never loved you. Some say I am selfish. Some think me evil and cast aspersions on me in their dark righteous minds. But the flames pressing together in luscious mirth, remind me of how I loved you; un-knowingly, intimately, invisibly. And that’s that.

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2016.

A beautiful place.

soulmates

Here’s a collaboration between myself and a friend. I saw those words “I am so riddled with injuries” on his pm and I made him do this poem with me. It’s his first try at poetry, and I think this is not at all a bad start. Thanks Endaud for the inspiration, and for working with me on this!

**

I am riddled with injuries
Blood. hurt. murk. funk.
A ragged heart, a punctured soul
Sore. raw. burnt. cut.
But I watch you want me
Prick me with your holy sin
Turn me inside out,
And bare me in your luscious mind
You take me in your cold arms
Cast me into fullness and ripe,
But nothing’s changed
Thrust. Pain. Pleasure. Pain.
Red.
Everything. Is. Coloured. In. Red.
Blood. hurt. murk. funk.
You are no different
From the ones that left.

___

I am riddled with injuries,
Clots, rot, and a haunting glow,
Scars, healing — winter, snow
Save a place for the one that knows.
Harrowed & hollow
Drowning in sorrow
But I come alive in your presence
Anew, in your shadow
For we been down the same haunted road
Coloured in misery, forges & bellows
Wrought in this rainbow darkness–
Beyond the blood,
Hurt, murk, and funk
I’ll show you a vision of solace and haunting tranquility
Kindred souls, you and me
To the bottom of this diamond sea we’ll float
To a beautiful place that is apathy.

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

The Rain.

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Picture: Courtesy of Photobucket.

**

The rain patters with mighty fury,
Upon my ocean of worries,
It strikes, without dismay,
Sending shivers through my feeble frame,

I curl away into time,
Afraid its tears will taint my cry,
The rain, it’s pouring down on me,
But I won’t let it stop my grief…

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

Red Rage.

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He came home last night. He had been away for a month, leaving me and the kids without a dime. I didn’t know whether to be angry, or happy as I heard him pull into the compound. I had been thoroughly worried about him the past days, calling and texting him without response. I feared something might have happened to him. What will I have done? Where will I have gone? He would have made the trouble much bearable if he had told me where he was going in that note he stuck to the Fridge before leaving that Sunday evening… but then, it didn’t matter. He was home. I hurried to the kitchen to rustle up something for him to eat. That’s a wife’s duty after all, to cater for the husband in good and bad times.

In thirty minutes, the table was set yet he hadn’t come upstairs. I looked through the window by the dinning room to find him seated in his car in a relaxed mood, holding his phone to his ear, laughing so gaily about something only he knew. A laughter I hadn’t heard in a long while. I strained my ears to pick his voice over the generators loud hum…

Mama, iyen o ki n se problem na. Ma to pada wa, e ma wori.

Mama? I felt a tear drop from my weary eyes. He had been with his mother all this while? Yet she gave me no clue all those lonely nights I called to seek her advice? What responsible mother allows her son leave his own home, wife and kids, to suckle from her sagging breasts after every long day at work for a whole month? He had come in now, his presence dusted with whiffs of alcohol. I shook my tears back and played the nice wife… for a few seconds.

Ekaabo.’

Ekule o. Where are my kids?’ he settled in the dinning area.

I turned to the wall-clock, it was 11:00pm and he was asking where his kids were? I chose to ignore the question. If he cared, he would have been home the past days instead.

‘I made you Eba and Efo.’ I said in reply, and turned to get him some water to wash his hands with before he asked any other stupid question.

Soon after, he had finished the food and appreciated me with a loud belch and stinking fart which both happened fast, that I wasn’t sure which came first. I swallowed it all and just mused on how a man I loved and adored so much had now turned to the insensitive bastard I could only manage to harbour. The atmosphere was laden with so much hurt and anger and hunger too. I was hungry, I hadn’t had a proper meal in a long while because he didn’t leave any money and I was saving the remaining soup that I warmed that evening, for his return. I deserved some explanation, I thought, so I broke the ice.

‘Where did you go ‘Laitan?’

He stopped fiddling with his phone and spared me an accusatory look.

‘What do you mean by where did I go? Work, of course!’ he spat.

‘Olaitan, you went to work for almost a whole month, from Sunday evening up until this Friday evening. You didn’t call, you didn’t text, you didn’t reply my calls or texts, you didn’t leave any money and you know I don’t have a job to cater to myself and the kids. Olaitan, Olaitan… is this life?’

‘Don’t start o, this woman! Let me breathe please, ‘ve only just returned.’

Tears poured down my face and my empty stomach started to wail too. It was too much to take in all at once. That was what I got for worrying over and about him for a month, in his conscious absence.

‘Olaitan, you make me cry everyday and I can’t but wish you the same kind of pain you make me feel. Olaitan, I am hungry. I haven’t had a proper meal all this time, and you know I am a nursing mother. Bolu is just 2 months old, have you forgotten? Olaitan, your children missed you. They cried to sleep every night because you were nowhere close to throw them into the air after a long day. Olaitan…’ I racked in sobs, as my voice trailed off but he just sat there wearing a stone cold face after which he stood up angrily and made to get his car keys. I crawled after him, holding on to his legs.

‘Olaitan Oribogunje, you are not leaving this house without me and my children!’ I screamed a little too loud.

‘Bukunmi! Bukunmi leave my leg. Bukunmi leave me o.’ he dragged himself on, pulling my fragile frame with him but I didn’t let go still. Toke had woken up now and was staring in horror. She cried, but I didn’t know if she was mourning her lost sleep or sad for me. Either way, I shared her pain.

‘Do your worst ‘Laitan! Do your bloody worst but you’re not leaving this house without us!’ I yelled. What more pain could he possibly inflict on me? I was numbed by weariness, too tired to feel anything more. Then he started to punch me and drag me by the hair, slapping me everywhere he could lay his palms on. I screamed to the neighbours ‘hhe…elp me! Help me from this bloody bastard I call a husband! Egba miii o!!’

‘Daddddyyyy! Daadddddyyyy!’ Toke’s screams tore at my heart and that seemed to strengthen me because only then did I start to fight back. I ran to the kitchen to grab a knife and threatened him with it. The neighbours had begun to knock on our door now but we were too absorbed in our own little world to care.

‘You’ll either kill me today or come back to your senses!’ I spat breathlessly, burning with red rage pent up from too many past years. He carried a chair and made to fling it at me, while I raised the knife in readiness awaiting his strike. That was when Toke made for the door in one swift movement because her eyes couldn’t take it anymore and like a flash before my very own eyes, she fell to the ground in a pool of blood.

Everything went stark quiet in that second. I dropped the knife quickly, and raced to my child. ‘Toke! Toke mi! Akanke! Toke!’ she wouldn’t respond. By then, Olaitan had already walked out of the house and started his car downstairs. Afraid, guilty, or ashamed, I couldn’t care why he left. The neighbours poured in now like flood, running here and there trying to revive her. But I knew she was gone, because the instant I held her, I knew she saved that last gaze for me, telling me to be strong. I wailed in my head, but I didn’t have the power to cry out.

That was a second or so ago.

I am too tired now. My soul retires. But before I slump to the ground I note that time has well passed. It is 12:00am and it is Valentines.

_
‘Mama, iyen o ki n se problem na. Ma to pada wa, e ma wori.’ – Mama, that is no problem at all. I will soon be back, don’t worry about it.

‘Egba mi o!’- Please help me!

‘Ekaabo’- Welcome

‘Ekule’- Response to welcome.

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2015.

For the love of loving you.

Once,
Now a very long time,
I used to think of you,
As the biggest part of my life,

Upon
My heart, your thoughts I laid,
Your happiness, my gain,
Your worries, my pain..

I was faithful to the letter,
loyal as a fool,
I was certain I had found love,
Guess I was young and confused..

They said it was madness,
That which I was feeling,
But then I would smile with a smirk
Could I have been any more stupid?

And
Sisters yelled and yelped
‘I was once like you’,
But even those words did little to help,

So I went headlong into it,
Lost all sense of reason,
Paid no mind to nothing else,
So that only you consumed my being..

And it took your leaving,
All of my goodwill,
Innocence and youth,
To realise how drenched and exhausted loving you had made me..

You didn’t deserve it,
Not my hello or goodbye,
But I gave it to you anyway,
And somehow, that makes me feel fine..

Once,
Now a very long time,
I used to think of you,
As the biggest part of my life..

And though you turned out a brute,
For me, nothing has changed,
I loved you then,
And even tomorrow, I’ll love you again..

**

© The Short Black Girl, 2014.