Your mother found her voice at 28.
Just incase you’re wondering, this poem is to my daughter – at 12 …
Sorry, I changed that to 5, because these kids are much smarter these days.
Your mother found her voice when the world had stopped talking
It was late.
She had swallowed the world too many times, all those times; the only sound that came out of her mouth was the swallowing.
She swallowed everything through a listening pipe, filled her belle with seasons and wars, and war cries and goings and cumming and everything else that made the world go round.
There were days – silence was the only sound you’d hear no matter how loud you tried.
And so, your mother mastered the art of swallowing her screams.
Conceiving everything – even the things that have no place inside a mother.
Your mother was once a world – a world, pregnant with its past… a past so present she could feel her future kick –
In pain, she swallowed her scream…
There were still days when nothing seemed to be coming out of anywhere – no matter the force you try.
The only time something tried to break out, was the world forcing it’s way out of your mothers mouth,
Not knowing whether to come out as a scream or a whisper or even … a song…
That was the day your mother – for the first time, tasted the lisp in her mouth,
Everything she could have said but didn’t say, all those years stood wobbling with buckled knees on her tongue,
Her lisp had grown with age – she could even taste how sour it was.
The salt in her saliva couldn’t save the world in your mothers’ mouth from decaying.
Every night, she dreamt of the oceans, of the dead fishes still floating, because she was taught that salt is the only reason dead things float in deep sea.
Your mother sinks in her dreams, unable to scream out and beg the salts to leave the oceans for a second to wrap her up in a heap and wait for her to climb back up before the salt return to where they belong.
Your mother never came back from that dream.
Daughter, wherever you find yourself, if you’re ever wondering if you should be somewhere else, don’t be confused with the words on the map except where it says “you are here.”
Patience Tiencepay Lawal.