“How My Mother Spends Her Nights” by Rasaq Malik Gbolahan

Rasaq Malik Gbolahan

HOW MY MOTHER SPENDS HER NIGHTS

My mother spends her nights
watching as darkness swallows
the remaining light in the sky.
She spends her nights unveiling
the scars that stretch like wind
on her skin, the anger that balloons
in her heart, and the voice of my
father that aches her ears.

My mother spends her nights in
an empty room, talking about my
father’s life that cages her’s:
my father’s name becoming
a mantra in the mouth
of every woman, my father’s face
becoming a nightmare whenever
he returns home with his pockets
stuffed with used condoms, with
his jacket reeking of alcohol and smoke
of cigarettes.

My mother spends her nights
trying to open her heart with
another man’s fingers, trying
to see her name etched on the
brow of someone else. My mother
spends her nights dressing her aged
body with cologne, waiting for a man
to say there will be time to fall in love
again and again.

from Rattle #51, Spring 2016

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__________

Rasaq Malik Gbolahan: “I started writing poems as an undergraduate at the University of Ibadan. I would go to bookshops to fish poetry collections and devour them. I would go out at night to watch the moon and recount how it moves. Later, I started writing about my country—Nigeria—where problems ranging from political instability and unrest plague everywhere. I also wrote about my life. I believe poetry has a way of exhuming our thoughts and presenting them to the world. It has a way of creating a world where every reader finds solace. It has a way of transforming us into what probes the world we live in as time ticks. It breaks and stitches us. It immortalises us.”