the tiger’s bride

Khadija Abdalla Bajaber

The moths, they sup on my sorrow,
my mineral-rich grief,

they come to announce that the rains are coming.

He says that the hand was created twice,
twice to seek,

that like an innocent he had only come looking for his blood to be returned to him,
but found me.

Too much of the world’s darkness is to test the truth.
If the song is ugly, it’s only because you do not believe like the other birds.

The earth dries up and slows into patience, the dirt
like wolves awaiting the arrival of kings. In glorious jungles, in darkness,
and in fear.

They should have called me Mercy, to spit on me some more.

He sends rains upon me, he feeds like a moth,
he puts his great head on my knees, this monstrous master.

One half an hour when the world was finished and slow,
I whispered to myself the treacherous truth of my heart

– I do not have half the duty, anymore.

He sends upon them the rains, but the beasts they tell me
we do not care, we the wild beasts are still dead.

He puts his great head on my knees, I do not have half the duty,
my spirit is far behind, seated in the ruins of my mother’s home,
the curse of his sovereign hand, our eyes well-watered.
the dagger curves against my waist,
hidden beneath the fold of my dress,
a bitter guard,
a carefully crafted secret.

And now, he cuts the shade on his way back to me.
The daylight turns fierce and gold, nothing can hide from it.
His heart was up, below and behind him.

Like the arrow snatched out of the air, it was dear in my hands.

I no longer have half the duty.
He is tired, he rests his great head on my knees.
He has been in the black sea, hunting.
The sound of his sleep more precious than the old life, the old far away life.

The wounds of my body are angry with me,
they drink me until I am brand new.

Khadija Abdalla Bajaber is a Mombasarian writer of Hadrami descent and the 2018 winner of the inaugural Graywolf Press Africa Prize for a first novel manuscript.


*Image by James Wainscoat on Unsplash

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