Poems by Berenice Makani-Mansomi

My father’s name

My birth, I’m told,
was not awaited with great anticipation;
born on my mother’s return
from a Friday-night dance,
the last thing on her mind
being rushed to a clinic
at the eleventh hour;
giving birth to
this round cheeked baby girl
adding to an existing two:
she knew exactly what she was in for.

My father was disappointed, I’m told
he was sure that this time
it would be a boy
to make him proud and continue his name
and so I carried this eternal shame
of being born without a penis
unable to continue my father’s history,
or extend our history.

I went to school
a dark-skinned little girl;
a great handicap
during the eighties
with the Apartheid machine slugging along,
reminding me just how undesirable,
unremarkable,
unlovable,
inexplicitly coloured I am;
it seemed each year of existence
merely adding to my shame.

Unable to continue my father’s name,
I got rid of it
as soon as I could,
opting for a delicious sounding name
which was never my own;
I just borrowed it in holy matrimony
which didn’t last,
but I decided to keep it all the same:
I still liked its sound!

 

Longing II

Nights are dedicated to you
too short
for every fantasy
you laughing into my eyes
taking my face between your hands
leaning over me post-love
and more!
nights are too short
too busy catching up
I awake exhausted
from our marathon conversations
drenched in sweat
drenched in love
nights are too short!
I awake
in foul mood
annoyed at the light
filtering through the blinds
irritated at the day about to start
reality kicks hard
and oh!
nights are too short
to quell the slow throbbing heat
spreading down my thighs
nights are too short
nights are too short
nights are too short
to sooth the longing
rising like a giant when it’s dark.

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