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Sister Wives | Isabelle Baafi

last night I tasted you on him 

thighs lathered in cinnamon oil

to keep the flies away

the bitter of banana beer

the chew of acacia gum 

paint yourself with the red earth

from the hills

show me your garden

black is rich is wet is soft is yielding 

beg the river its water

tilapia smoked with onions 

but do not drink too long

mosquitoes aren’t the only beasts

who like your taste

who take your blood away

and if you leave the roots will thirst

spread in all directions in the shade 

remember, if you break I will cement you with my spit

or the fat of a shea nut

and when he breathes on me 

a mortar no pestle can pound

a millet coarse and wild

is his mouth yours 

its smell drenching the bush

bleeding like sweet plums

are you the one who showed him

how to plough a flowerbed with his tongue 

saying – bitter soil grows nothing good

or how like yours the blood

between my thighs 

or if eyes see too much

they lose their light

did you poke holes in our roof 

through the world we were taught to carry

on our heads

so that the rain could seep in and watch 

so we would not get carried away

we, warned not to drink the light

that trickles between palms

remember, we have mothered many

suckled more, but

we are most the same

when loving the same man

no matter whose son catches the fowl

the entire compound eats it

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Isabelle Baafi is a writer and poet. She was the winner of the 2019 Vincent Cooper Literary Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition. Her work has been published or is forthcoming with Anthropocene, Broken Sleep Books, Verve Poetry Press, and elsewhere. She is currently working on her debut poetry collection.

Twitter: @isabellebaafi

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