Brown Girls Don’t Have Homes

we are mutilated,bandaged into womanhood when we are here-in splintered lands we call h-o-m-e

and when we step out we carry the sun-shame onto the frozen honour of civilisation.

when we are home our mothers teach us to soften our tongues- mellow the edges of our anger so

others don’t get hurt. fold the knife inwards-the only rightful claim to the wounds is you.

when we step out their eyes trail our erring adolescence-reminders come, shroud yourself in shame

a few steps forward, and we are chained by those who seek

to save us from our own.

when we are home we are too much

we step out and spill out and the world doesn’t have enough room to house us

our hair curls wrong. our bodies rise and swell and recede as they please.

our voices ring too high. our words are too big. our desires too crude.

we carry too much spice. too little ease.

our mothers were right. the streets are not for us. not the way men’s eyes

sneer in the guise of desire. women’s bodies cause men to sin – on our part,

desire itself is.

the only real way to escape is to pick one man and build his home.

pick your prison. not everyone has license to choose. savour your luxuries.

squeeze out a child maybe two. pray they are not cursed like you.

brown girls build homes in words. you are lucky if the vultures don’t follow you here.

pillow-homes, shake out the feathers. you are selfish if you write your self into being.

brown girls don’t have selves. look at sita. how she sunk in dishonour.

if we write about others it does not matter.

the blood in the north does not matter.

the cries in the north east does not


the flesh at the border is just part of a procedure.

shut your eyes. brown woman. brown man is only protecting you from the other.

don’t dream of home. don’t you learn.

your grandmothers left theirs. in more ways than one.

if need be. build one in your head. but don’t speak

don’t flaunt it don’t plaster invitations on the wall

all your womanly sentimentality it gets in the way of progress and development.

only progress builds you a home. we will build you a home.

a home where you can veil yourself in discarded respect. a home built on blood and bones.

brown girl don’t scream don’t speak so loud

what is home to you if not a noose our great empire flung down?

brown girl take the noose. take the hint. don’t blink a lash don’t bat a lid.

we build you home brown girl we give you safety we ask in return one thing

one thing only

your vision and  voice.


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