Two poems by Roberta Amanda Yemofio


My mother wonders why I am afraid of the dark
When she herself on that 6am peeled my skin
Off the foreign sweat that did not belong
He smelled like hunger
I suppose all men do

“Is he the one?”
My mother wonders if every man I bring home is the one.
You did not move from the space your lover left you
I have become your body Ma
I move when you do

What does it mean to let go?
You do not get used to being left behind.
Every loss is a reminder of the previous
Like when a still born is detached from a wailing mother
And her hollowness tells of a broken camaraderie

Who taught you love?
My mother says:
I do not teach my children what I do not understand.
Love is an alien tongue.
I teach you how to forget, how to be brave,
How to sit in silence like a home does.
No one knows the chaos that goes on in a home.

Like Water

Before you let me touch you
Know that I am a crashing wave
Love me accordingly

My wings got burnt in the fire my father lit with his cigar
And so ashes met river and ‘stay’ became synonymous with ‘escape’
Love me accordingly

I would let you hold me but
The men who took turns warming my heart, bit pieces and called me bitter.
And have you ever cradled crashing waves to sleep?
Maybe you do not meet the criteria

Before you allow yourself to love me,
know that an anchor is not good enough for this body.
I will flow in the parts of you that need filling
but do you have the strength to make me stay?

‘Shedding’ and ‘Like Water’ were first published as part of our Balance Anthology.
Download the full anthology.