b.1992

We’d rush down before mum dropped the ladle
on the frame of the pot, stew still popping
pepper permeating the walls
we’d pray and hold hands,
and grace distinctly Nigerian meals
with British culinary etiquette
till the very last drumstick.

Dad would come home and
we’d rush to his tree trunk legs and dangle
as he dragged us to the living room where
we’d take off his shoes and
pull smelly faces at his socks
and he’ll tell a long tale about our lineage
till we fell asleep

and then

one day, the socks really do smell
and we don’t want to hold hands
because someone is too proud to say sorry
and it sits in the air till the stew gets cold
and we don’t watch Saturday night TV on the sofa anymore
and we’re too old for bedtime stories
bored of ancient glories
and then finally we shed skins and leave.

You come home, eventually
they’re a little greyer
and you recognise some of their darkness in you
and it shadows you, humbles you
and they talk to you like you’re friends,
because friends are those who stick around
and family is what you’re stuck with.

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