‘Forbidden Fruit picker’ (2015) by Wangechi Mutu
Mama, you never told me of the animals;
sheltered under hot metal roofs, they speed past,
their calls splinter fresh burnished skin.
I, who believed the world was mine, saw I was nothing more
than its tall-legged furnishing.
Mama, you never told me of the night-creatures;
with waves of Pims and fruit punch, they drown us.
Hand on thigh, they part shores, drain seas
and shush me to silence.
Mama, you never told me
that a man’s chest is not a drum – fists make muted thuds.
I had to learn to make my own music with a cotton-tipped tongue;
learn to spin gold from dark tales unsung;
learn to find victories in battles not won.
It wasn’t easy.
Mama, you said I had to ‘kill them with kindness’.
Instead I, a serpent-tongued Lilith, spit venom at Eve
and mouth pleasures she could never conceive in her submission.
And I vow to eternally resist that inherited condition.
Mama, you didn’t tell me.
Was it because you thought I had to learn it?
To have it etched into my skin, so I could read it and burn it?
If that’s the case, then this lesson – I’ve heard it.
And I write our story anew and reword it
cause we’ve earned it.