Your body is a piece of parchment paper
And you are the cartographer
Inscribing small lines across it
Each line is portentous
A memory made into an etching
Of the first time you kissed a boy
Of the first time you read Leviticus 18:22
Of abominations and a promise of hell
Of the look of disgust when your cousin caught you fondling the boy next door,
Of when that cousin told your mother and she stood you in the parlour and delivered sharp slaps punctuated by “when did this start?” and “who taught you this?”
When you cut yourself, I swear, the first time will be the hardest. Just make sure you use a new tiger blade to do it in your room, and not the kitchen knife, so you do not forget to wash it well. Your mother could then see the streaks of blood and ask you, and you will stand there and lie and lie and mix it all up and she will almost catch you in the lie.
Also, do not try the back of your hand first. It hurts too much.
Laps are the best I tell you. No one can see them.
Your body is now a stage
Where all the performers must leave after they are done
Sometimes you want them to stay
You are tired of these performances
Of sweat, kisses, groans and semen
Which leave nothing but soiled condoms and the stench of perspiration in your room.
And then on some nights, you stay up and scrub your room over and over
Then you draw small patterns that leave tiny globes of blood
Purging yourself clean.
If you can’t be a cartographer, you can be pyrotechnician. But I must warn you. Use a small lighter and not the matches your mother keeps behind the cooker in the kitchen. Do this so that you do not have to explain to her how the matches disappeared. Do this also because matches go off when they come in contact with your skin, but a lighter stays lit. A lighter will not trigger your asthma and leave you half dead on the floor choking from its fumes. There will be no fireworks sparking out of your body. Those will come under your eyes afterwards.
And if you have a blister, do not burst it. If however you do, taste the salty wetness and be reminded of how it tastes like semen, and how a god-man once said we are the salt of the earth.
One day, somebody will read this poem-thingy
While semen dries on your stomach and clings to the duvet
And ask you why you only spoke about your mother
You will tell him
That you remember your mother in bits
Like a torn picture
A colourful mosaic
Made partly of paper
And partly of stones
She was a cat that always landed on her feet no matter the height she was thrown from
She was talcum powder, bright blouses and musty wrappers
She became a kitchen, the smell of burning beans
A howl of disappointment,
A salad of hot prayers, incense, anointing oils, bibles and a belly groaning from fasting.
And when you tell him this, he will nod and say, “That’s deep, can we go another round?”
And you will look away as he rolls a condom onto his turgid curved penis.
“Why can’t we turn on the light?” he’ll ask.
“No! I like it this way,” you’ll respond.
Have you ever had a cut? Of course you have. Except you grew up with a punctilious mother who locked you in at home before going to the market over her fear of the pollution of your mind, leaving you to run and run around in the house.
When next you have a cut (better done by yourself so you do not slice too deep and see the fatty bubbles under the skin), wait for two days, and then press the cut slowly, slowly, as if massaging your sex. I swear, after awhile, you will feel a bitter pleasure, something tingly, like the aftermath of a performance.
The lights are off in your room
Night is falling swiftly
And in the mauve-orange sky
The sun is a bright window surrounded by dusty clouds
You stand naked
A bible in your hand
Your fingers are sticky
You can smell the cloying rust
As you read over and over in the dimming light
A used condom stares back you from the dustbin
Limp, wet, dirty, a reminder of yourself.
These lines on your body are roads
Short, twisting, broken
Where do they lead?
Are you running from someone?
What are you?
Written by TJ