A poem about a child for today’s Another 21 Days/ 21 Poems.
This morning, my six year old said something uppity. I responded with smart mouth, he said ‘a mouth is not a brain so it can’t be smart’. Sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I do know that when he is older, I shall look back at this stage and yearn for these days because he would surely have upped his antics by age 10!
Lola Shoneyin’s ‘Jolademi’ is perfect!
He creeps into my bedroom
when the night is most alive.
Unafraid, he feels for the walls
that will bring him to my door.
It has been four years since I spat him
from a lip in my womb.
Yet every night, he crawls back in.
The first light pries through the curtains.
He kisses sleep from my eyes
and pinches my lips to seize my first words;
he wants them for himself.
I breathe in the smell of milk
that has never left his forehead.
God, if I could birth this boy again,
I watch him at breakfast.
His face is crushed like an eggshell.
For him, food is slow, fist-under-chin torture.
Mother, let this plate pass over me, he pleads.
At once, he attacks the sweet jar.
He’s a boy soldier.
His face is ever smeared
with chocolate paint.
I watch him from my window.
Bent over like a rainbow,
he scours the garden for things
his fingers are drawn to.
He seeks me bearing gifts:
hollow beetles, strange stones, flattened cans.
I push them back into his metallic hands.
At night, he pulls me down
on my knees and moistens my lips
Good Night, Mum, he says
and walks away
My insides flap about like a wet loincloth.
Come morning, come soon.
– by Lola Shoneyin
Lola Shoneyin is a Nigerian poet and novelist. I have reviewed two of her books: the novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives and the children’s book Mayowa and the Masquerades. She has published three collections of poetry: So All the Time I was Sitting on an Egg, Song of a Riverbird and For the Love of Flight.
Bonus: The 5th poem (theme was aging) I featured in the 21 Days/ 21 Poems for the 2011 Celebration –Next Day by Randell Jarrell