Poetry on wax
The last of the holy water runs down the drain.
The pile of empty calling cards rises in a corner.
We store the names of loved ones in the mouth
when the ocean spreads itself and separates us
The sofa keeps our bodies so close to the ground.
Dad says one day we’re going to have sofas
that make us want to invite the neighbours over.
The landlord warns that families like ours are dirty.
Mother spends any time she can scrubbing walls and floors.
Mother wants to live inside the picture
with the woman smiling on her pretty bed.
We daughters lock ourselves in empty rooms.
We daughters are trying to teach ourselves how to sleep
The camera to document a body I am wrecking.
The sons scared of silence, screaming into every room
they are called.
The sons trying to forget their own names.
The neighbours who don’t mind reminding you
that you are in their country.
The father who smiles at them
and says, ‘I hope you have a good day’
and means it.
The daughters who are preparing fists.
the daughters who have been taught
that silence is survival
and resistance means aunt Halima
whose teeth were knocked out.
He isn’t afraid to put her in her place
and the family keeps praying,
telling her that the nightmares go away,
fear eventually melts.
Uncle keeps calling to say
'there is no place better for you than the home.
don’t let me catch you in the street’.
Uncle catches me in the street
with red lipstick
and says, ‘don’t you know
what red lipstick means?
you’re my niece.
you’re my niece.
shame would kill me.
I would move countries,
Do you understand?
Father brings home a CD of Somali love songs.
Mother is trying to let go.
She loves this country with so much weight
but the house keeps getting smaller.
She has forgotten her father’s face.
She is getting no better at saying goodbye.