I come undone. Standing on the edge of the world.
“It seems like it was only yesterday we were so in love.”
Raining in my heart, Al Green
I liked Lord Byron’s Don’t Fuck with Me attitude. I liked that he was a club foot, obese at times, and while he still had the name his family had become poor and that he said, “I woke up to find myself famous,” and still he did not cower. He was running all his life but he was not running from any man.
I liked John Keats determination to leave an imprint of his feathery tread on time, this life, and a memory of the many things he had seen at the apocathery. I liked that he could stay the course to qualify in medicine and still not die poetically, prove who he was, then walk away, walk out of the door, to be who he was inspite of all the perils and disadvantages he was starting out with. Rome Keats, the bed by the window.
Percy Shelley was the poet of my youth, Oxford University might have been somewhere so many wanted to be, but not Shelley. I liked that Shelley acknowledged that he was from a rich family and never felt shy or bitter about it, did not let guilt get in the way of following what he had to follow. I liked that he knew the prices to pay and paid them, child with the power to gaze into the future, what did you see?
Christopher Okigbo’s complexity appealed to me from the beginning though to this day I do not think I completely understand what each of his poems means. I liked that he did not let surfaces fool him, that he would tell to their faces people what he thought of them. I liked that he tried to be a man of action, woefully unsuited, that he tried.
Cyprien Ekwensi was a favourite even before I ever read any work of his and even when I found out that he was not truly an original, I still liked that he was a beater of odds. That he was trying for something he did not fully comprehend, beating paths on roads where he would be forgotten and covered in dust by the side. I liked that he kept going, even then.
Barbara Kimenye’s joy is my joy still, the Moses series not my favourites. But in Kalasanda and Kalasanda Revisited, Ugandan village of my youth, I have known these people and they are with me always because of Kimenye. I have never seen Kimenye, she must old now but I have little doubt that she has the most beautiful laughing voice. I hear it every time I read her.
I used to love Lilliane Barenzi before she went from sharp-eyed cynical leaving journalism school to maternal to now fuzzy I do not understand what happened to her crystalline prose. She was fearsome, still is sometimes, but there was a core that chastised from caring too much rather than avenging anger and in her old Sunday Vision columns, falling apart now in my folders, she still lives.
I’m not much of a food person not because I do not love eating food but because I know too few places and people who can satisfy my appetite. But I buy every Sunday the Sunday Monitor because of Kaddu Mukasa Kironde for who a meal is not just a meal, refusing to lower his exacting standards just because he is in a city where the concept has not yet been introduced. I like Kaddu Mukasa Kironde very much, muscular prose flexing, the marry-up man.
“We are two shadows, making love, chasing rainbows, Making memories.”
If These Walls Could Talk, Celine Dion
Sweet sorrow conjurer, friend of the endless night, the breathing presence in humid afternoon rooms the TV off, holding on a little bit longer, laugh at this scenario like I do, living through your rear view mirror, we are still here. I do not want to lose this moment.
In a car with you, Saturday afternoon, driving from Bukoto through to Bugolobi, you driving, to Catch the Sun, how will I ever forget this day? How will I ever want to? You never needed a door to enter my life. Talking to you in the car, when you leaned forward, your perfume intoxicated me, and I can never get enough of your crooked little smile that comes when you say I’m being funny. Well I have never held a smaller hand harder in mine like I did in your car before we went in and where your bangle cut into my skin, I can still feel it. You like to drive with your shoes off. White is your favourite colour with big belts. You were wearing a black crocodile skin belt. I’m leaving parts of me here, giving me parts of you, I will never forget the feel of you breathing on my neck, in your car when we did not need words anymore. When I held your gaze and we were not going to go home again. I do not know how this happened. Your crooked little smile…
I sat all Sunday afternoon in my living room thinking. Thinking. Watching the sun go down, letting the chill come in, unable to go into my bedroom, unable to let go. I sat all Sunday afternoon in the chair you sit in when you come over, I sat Sunday morning thinking. One Saturday, talking in your car, I surprised myself. I surprised you. I have not sat in my living room thinking like I did on Sunday morning, the impossible possible. I have never known this boldness, I have never known these smells, sitting in your car Saturday evening, I have not watched the purpling darkening sky for a setting sun in many years like I do with you, and we have Pringles to snack on we never eat. I have watched you in the backseat waiting for me and I have wondered what your eyes are saying, I wonder still. I sat all Sunday afternoon in my living room wondering, your skin still under my fingernails, all of you still in my nostrils, breathing you.
“In the time it will take you to learn from your mistake
In the time it will take you to dial the phone
In the time it will take…
She will be gone.”