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Two Poems by Siza Nkosi

i am my mother’s daughter

my father is a white ice-cream van
that he owns and plays jazz in
and drives off with for weeks
rehearsing lines with his Kente friends
while I sit at the back seat
pushing back tears with my mouth
mama doesn’t know that
udaddy dropped his pants
and left them on the bedroom floor
and ipenty lam’ is on top of them
with blood stains

my father is the black suit
that he wears and looks dashing in
the suit makes him look respectable
mama’s heart hardens –
and breaks and slits open her skin
that’s how mama got that scar
on her face

my father is beautiful handwriting
he writes in cursive,
crosses his dots t’s and dots his i’s
my father is a writer
he wrote all the letters we found
after umngcwabo wakhe
sifake amaroko ablack
kungaphumi ngisho neliy’one

i wish I had a father
maybe I wouldn’t have turned out
so hard and bitter
so fragile
and scared to raise my daughters
i am my mother’s daughter

behind closed curtains

there is a room in our house
that’s draped in red curtains
behind them is a box
covered in long silence
we never let the sun in

when night falls
we go inside the room
holding white candles
open the curtains for moonlight
hold the box very close to our hearts
and remember