I am the war she talks about

We don’t talk about our dark days.

Of all earth’s lush night plant life,

you choose to call the girl with

war in her mouth

and bullets for dialect

by a flower’s name.

I am your love language

with petals for scars

and sprouts for self healing skin,

I come to you fragrant,

and in bloom,

a little vain,

and incomplete,

but fragrant.

We don’t dig into the fear.

My mother still speaks your name with

gas in her mouth like the initial

to a warzone.

With her hand to her mouth,

she has whispered and admitted that beside her name,

is the name of a man she has plucked

the moon for.

Of all the things she has taught me,

I am yet to learn how to tuck a man’s

name beneath my tongue

as an apology for wearing a man’s heart

on my chest like armament.

I am the war she talks about.

She still pulls lullabies out of her belly

and songs of the labour.

She should have told you that girls

that dwell in her belly come

out mumbling a dialect of how to be held

with both hands.

In subtle ways,

I have tried to channel my grief

into sections of your skin

that rise and fall with the way night

allows you to mention my name

and raised walls.

I watch my youth outgrow your hands

in poorly timed intervals and

in that moment,

I am that receding turmoil of a war-torn city square

slowly healing its soldiers’ wounds.

These nights are getting typical.

Let me be a harmless lover.

I can only be that once,

and I’ll bring my darkness first.

Naomi Waweru

A poet, short story and prose writer, but mostly a poet.


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