Retrace (after Cat Brogan’s ‘You go Back’)

You go back to get your braids done by the ladies that pull
you by the elbow and call you names that are not yours. They call
you Aunty, Sister, My friend like you once played ten-ten together.
Back to the dusty road and men with voices that sound
like tired trucks calling out places with sing-song names
to see if the melodies still makes you break out in sweat.

You go back to bend your knees until your greetings are
tattooed on your waist and your lips bleed respects
floating towards undeserving Aunties and Uncles.
Back to the rusted roofs and houses guarded by guards
with branches pointing to the sky and
gates so high they could maybe see God’s feet.

You go back for the harsh hand of the afternoon sun, to stretch on the straw
mat under the stars, in the backyard of the house that still treats you like a child.
Back to speak with a language that once melted on your tongue
like butter on freshly baked Agege bread only to discover the letters are lost
in bacon, baked beans and toast, washed away with oceans of espresso.
Back to remember the taste of Fan ice yogurt on a burning tongue
for dodo Ikire, crispy dundu and spicy sauce by the fat woman whose daughter
still wears your blue trouser from five years ago, whose son still tastes you on his tongue.

You go back to pout at your mother as she reminds you to swallow
your anti-malaria pills or get smacked, while she cleans the neighbour’s wound,
and help the biscuit seller down the road to birth the bundle of mystery in her belly.
Back to lose yourself in your father’s law book, swim in the wetness in his eyes and the gap in the corner of his mouth as he watches you state your case for hours.He smiles and says you will look good in a black gown and a wig.
Back to mother’s kiss on the cheek and father’s pat on the back
to see if you could ever again sleep in the embrace of the ocean of your sweat
under the attack of singing mosquitoes.

You go back to see if it still burns like furnace,
to see if you still fit in,
to see if it still feels like home.


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