when men take by Yasmin Musse

I am not a silent poet

you are your mother’s nightmare

whimpering on her kitchen floor.

three women with eyes yellowed by war

sit around you, humming surah al-fatiha,

rocking back and forth like playground swings in winter.

a fourth woman,

triangle of wrinkles between her brows

peels back your white baati,

pulls apart your legs

and whispers in your ear

did he touch you there huuno? did he?

you say nothing

because your mouth reeks of his hot car and wet tongue,

of his you’re special sagaleey, special like fanta twist.


your mother stops pretending to be busy at the stove

and collapses to the floor.

she curses the absence of your father,

beating her chest like women who pull their lovers

from burning houses.

that night your auntie visits from market harborough,

says you have the eyes of her dead ayeeyo,

an amhara woman who descended from kings,

fattened by halwa and sesame…

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