Two Poems by Haneefah Bello

My left leg

has a ring on each finger                                     is purple                                          goes shopping with
Nana                                is slicing Salmah up                                is a professional yogi
              is #weshouldallbefeminists                               is a hallowed guest                                   was not
talking to you                           talks too loudly, too softly                                    couldn’t find her left
eyeball                            found out she could eat crabs raw                                  is mixed breed; half
dog, half water                                         is too much salt and not enough honey
             is the reason you’re still alive                             is a mango                                  was beautiful,
Rihannetu                                    just wants to know you’re okay                                    is sometimes a
stone                             will die from this habit                                     says wash your hands, it’s time
for dinner                                    is dinner                                   is the bloodstained flag from the
– have you seen…? She was last seen wearing…
did not want to be the first to know                                  escaped prison twice                       swings
her hips softly, softly                           is a half-boiled egg                               is not a gender war
                            embezzled the students union funds                     picks her ear with a
broomstick                                    is the snake, the apple                 is the best silk scarf you ever
did see                             is right corner office meeting at 2pm, sir                          is working
from home                                    is the neighborhood cat                                had to clean this up all
by herself                                     got lost on her first day of uni, later found with two canines missing
stops, stares
doesn’t expect to come home to this mess                                   doesn’t want to call, but the walls are
crying again, Rihannetu                                     needs you to sign right here                                  did not
travel all the way down here for this                              hates her mother                                       loves
her mother                                    is quite the arsonist
– do you dream?
– do you eat the red horse in your dream?
                                        dances, just dances

all the crumbs of you

on my tongue sister                                                     fill
                                                          the gap
between my                    front                                   teeth
                                                                             mad bush baby
                                                                                                                             mouth deliciously pregnant with ash
at the gathering of ghost aunts                                                    howling
of knives on chopping boards slamming the night in                                                       your face
febrile                                   fermenting                                       fetuses mid-decay stuck
in your
                  nostrils                                          between your cornrows                                         dangling
                                                                                                           from your ears
                                                                             like earrings
                         spittle                              teeth                            sweat
                            so mangled                     so perforated                                       reeking
of stale milk
have you lost your hips?
do you recall any of it?
who did this to you?

Haneefah Bello is a poet and short story writer from Nigeria. She studies law at the University of Ibadan. Her works have appeared in Akuko Literary Magazine, PoetryColumn NND, Kissing Dynamite, Praxis Magazine and elsewhere. Twitter: @HaneefahBello.

Art: Of Art in the Upside/Down, a visual poem by Robert Frede Kenter (c) 2022. Twitter: @frede_kenter

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