Polaroid

Your mother married
the first man she ever kissed.
Thirty three years later,
fit to burst in that same
neon blue shift dress,
she plods herself underneath

the kisses of a Cherry Blossom tree.
She was nineteen and untouched.
The whole village knew it.
She tells you this story –
dwelling in the intimacy of

The overgrown stache
that tickled her top lip

The flutter of his lashes
against her cheekbone

The hand that hovered
around the dents of her back

How he explained
that these dents were deep
enough to bury his past.
How the left one
was deep enough to hold
a well of water. A well
that later that night,
he dipped his tongue into
-baptised – he declared
himself brand new.

Feathered wishes land
on her head. She tilts
when you raise your camera
but only slightly, as though
they are a family –
their picket fence her crown.

Birthday Boy

FADE IN

Exterior – Atherstone Market – Day. Terry Richards, a forty year old unemployed father of two, strolls barefoot through the busy town centre at a calm pace. He is fairly well dressed and distinguished, cheeks carpeted in black stubble. He laces through the hive of charged up shoppers. His hands are filled with shopping bags, one of which houses a single balloon, boisterously blue, flitting only inches above his shoulders. Interior – Train Station – Day. Terry makes his way down the stairs and heads for platform 2.

Stand well back from the platform edge. The next train at platform 3 does not stop here.

Terry leans his back against the unreliable embrace of a confectionary vending machine, scowling at the layers of tacky gum and spilt tea littering the floor. He crouches his shoulders in order to rest his assortment of bags not on the floor, but on the tips of his pale toes. Opposite, on platform 3, a boy no older than four, darting around his tired mother, halts to attention. Bemused by Terry’s kooky stance, the mischievous boy crumbles into a disorderly laughter before disappearing into the whizzing fog of lightning grey. Terry shuffles uncomfortably. Seconds later, track cleared, Terry’s cheeks drop in dismay as Boy, who now holds a small audience captive like little planets in his palm, points and continues to laugh uncontrollably in Terry’s direction. 

Stand well back from the platform edge. The next train at platform 2 does not stop here.

BLACKOUT

Interior – Living Room – Night. A deflated Jaxon Richards [9] sits lifelessly in his father’s armchair watching the six o’clock news. On his lap, a birthday cake with candles burnt down to the bud.

London Midland have confirmed that trains at Atherstone station will be back up and running within the next hour.

FADE OUT

Decree Nisi

Her mourning legs, veiled in black stockings,
traipse through their once happy
now tarnished threshold.
She follows the trail of petals
which leads to a sea of peonies
lacing the wood framed bed.
She bends over. Rips off the tights
one by one, before collapsing
into the waterfall of sheets.
On impact, the peonies take flight –
grow wings and cavort in the open air
to the sonance of their new found freedom.

Roots

I sat next to an old lady in St. John’s today. Dead leaves fluttered between us.
Like you, she’s a fan of khaki and corduroy; both worn in the form of a knee length
skirt, exposing her rich ankles as they rejoice wildly in the brisk November wind.

I only had seven minutes of my lunch hour left. She looked like she had all day.
We got to talking. “What’s your favourite thing about earth?” she asked.
I wanted to say you.

                                      I wanted to tell her about the strength that brews
underneath the shrinkage of your nappy hair. How the kink in your roots
is the key to your magic. How I remember you taking shelter under Sekuru’s

golf umbrella – shielding your rich melanin from Chinhoyi’s boastful sun.
How even in the shadows, you glisten. Resembling the midnight sky but louder.
Taller.

              Yes, your tongue may be as sharp as sin. Who could blame you
after that unfortunate incident with the ZANU-PF faction which synched
the sweet of your taste buds. And in spite of the bitter and sour left behind

I wanted to tell her about your hands. The ones that raised two boys, four girls.
The ones that pounded sadza. Put togetherness on the table night after night.
The ones that grew rows and streams of shallots. Sugarcane. Even repi.

The hands that laid Sekuru to rest after fifty-nine years of unblissful marriage.
I wanted to tell her but how could I? I only had five minutes left. You
are a lifetime.

Please Can I Have a Man

Please can I have a man
whose most romantic line is when I rise, you shine.
A man who only occasionally pays for dinner. Makes me
do the DIY. But even in the crowdedness of a Bold Street
café, stares at me as though there’s a battlefield housing a war
-a raging war- one just waiting to be won on the surface of my lips.
A man whose smile only forms on the taste buds of my tongue.
Whose midnight moon peaks through the gap of my front teeth.
Please can I have a man whose world begins and ends
on the mahogany island of my areola. Whose fingertips
trace the stretch marks that brand my hips. Heading south.
Finding unexplored paths that lead to the tsunami roaring
between my thighs. A man who at the break of dawn,
the morning after our first night before, refuses
to kiss me goodbye.

POP

The second bell rang.
I ditched maths. Made a run
for the bike shed. Phosphorescence
twinkled across the eighty-sixed playground.
You could tell it was late November.

He asked what had taken me so long
-I had seen a courageous ray of light
that seeped through mulish clouds
making a home on the rind of a forgotten
autumn leaf- but before I could answer

he fixed his dirty thumb in between the cage
of my mouth. With the last stroke he let out
a sigh of relief. Pulled up his trouser
kissed the tip of my nose then whispered
you’re a woman now.

Aunt Sherline’s

A bomb exploded the afternoon I lost my virginity.
I left school in a hurry. The neat pleats in my black
mini skirt roared in the licit wind and beeps and horns
followed as I skipped past the boys in stand still traffic
on Greenmoore road. They stuck their heads out their
rolled down tinted windows. Begging for a glimpse
of my untouched peach. Their eyes leaked. I traced
through lace jitties. Tripped on a soul -I mean a shoe-
that someone had been chased out of like they do single
black mothers and I mean single in both terms. Single single
mothers deep in the heart of Atlanta Georgia. I tripped on a shoe.
Scrapped my knee and watched the chasteness bleed out of me.
When I got home he had been waiting for quite some time.
I was drowning in blood and he didn’t care. Neither did I.
My nipples rang through the paisley white barely cotton shirt
and he answered. Six minutes later another bomb went off
two doors down at Aunt Sherline’s. Mum had been round
for a spot of tea.