If These Walls Could Talk

by Chioma Okereke

It's not easy to tell you this
So I use my hands to shape the words for me
My fingers have become winged messengers of song
My tongue riverdances in the groove of yr belly-button
     It is not easy to open myself
     So I choose to open you
Stretch you out like a bow
And bleed merengues from way deep down inside you
Places you thought no longer existed
When you began this journey to Adulthood

It's not easy to tell you this
So my breath, my lips transport you
  To corrugated tin roofs
 Skinned knees and stolen mangoes
  The fruit was always sweeter when you suffered for it
 To bluebottles dive-bombing noizzZily
 To red-tailed lizards hypnotised by the sun
I reduce the man in you to the boy
       Who was not afraid that flinging his arms wide
To touch each end of the world
and d-a-n-c-ing
Would lead to questions about his sexuality-
      Who could quicken his mother's heart
Just by watching her at work in her kitchen

It's not easy to tell you this
So I wrap the words inside my palms
And knead them into your yielding flesh
Slick with sweat and tears of wild abandon-
   Throwing stones into Mr. Paul's backyard
 Hiding in doorways
  Tearing home as fast as you could before yr full name
 Escaped the tightly curled lips of yr father
I lick the salt from yr neck
And bury my fingers in the tangled mass of yr hair
That I am only allowed to touch in this moment
Where memories of yr youth
Replay themselves on the backs of transparent eyelids
To a soundtrack of my name…

It's not easy to tell you this
So I pull you into my body and let you escape
Return to yr innocence
  Become the man-child
  That traded his sister's conrfirmation bracelet
  For two sticks of gum and a metal sharpener…
And during those boyish exploits
I pray you meet the girl who is not afraid to show you
The colour of her love

If These Walls Could Talk by Chioma Okereke

© Copyright 2001. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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