Under pink and lilac streaked sky,
we picnicked by the dimly lit Seine
& in between paper cup chardonnays
she introduced me to chrysanthemums.
I could see a million more but it wasn’t the flower
it was the way she said chrysanthemums
a melodic photosynthesis,
every syllable rich with chlorophyll
the “s”’ would sit in her mouth
like she was the light in her grandfather’s garden,
the generous water jug on the porch,
like she persuaded the bees to stay longer, linger.
she read me poems from her Eden
and told me with each kiss that I was more handsome
than the most violet chrysanthemum.
Summer is selfie sticks + sticky sheets
it’s “I’m almost as tan as you” season,
it’s open top busses with diesel clouds,
the immigrant in me still baffles at the natives
frying themselves on beach rocks.
It’s insects the size of elephants
and everyone trudges around like hippos in the savannah
BUT crucially & redeemingly
it’s guilt free pistachio gelato and tiramisu
it’s SPF 30, showers and so much skin.
On the beach, bodies exposed tell their prose:
the man with a tide across his abdomen; too wide to be innocent,
the young girl with a stoma splashing in the shallow end, care free
the boys with long ribs and longer limbs flinging frisbees
across the small girls building castles with imagination and sea salt,
the big man with small speedos,
the red ice lolly melting in the sticky hands of the adopted black girl,
her blended family racing against heat & time, with their leaking ice cream cones,
the bronze beauty with emerald earrings and canon camera, a solo wanderer
the wrinkly lady with her equally wrinkly partner and large brim sun hats
anchored to each other as they stroll gingerly across the hot sand,
the mosaic of tattoos on darkening skin, ankles to wrists
the blondes, brunettes, balding and in between beading with sweat
in bikinis, pink flamingo floaties and Havaiana flip flops
summer is a kaleidoscope of souls disclosed
summer is the inside, outside.
I just heard the new Justin Bieber track
& it reminded me of the castles we went to in the summer.
How you always wanted to go,
how I rang and said hello
what you doing tomorrow;
how we put our phones away,
how you looked at the spring, the waterfall,
the exotic garden of poisonous plants,
how the sun beamed on your braids with the gold clips.
& the other castle by the sea, when hayfever
made me drip, itch, cry and you still kissed me.
& I said, I breathe better with your mouth on mine.
I said, I breathe better with your mouth on mine.
We “oh! … hi”’d and didn’t know whether to shake hands or hug(?),
we shook hands.
Next to you, a ridiculously sharp jawline parading as your boyfriend(?)
waits, nonchalantly, and the space takes us back to that
windowless library room where we met,
where we bonded over the Rwandan genocide,
pan-Africanism and the future of this and that.
I made my way into your thesis
and when summer came you said, “here’s my number”.
We drank assorted tea in the basement of a haven I can’t find again,
lunched over grilled lamb with tahini sauce and
we talked of your time in the West Bank,
I remember how your voice picked up at injustice
and how I knew someday you’d light the world.
Honestly, I struggled to read DuBois, Baldwin or even Angelou
but to me you were a revolution.
Anyway, you introduce the boy with forest coloured eyes,
warm brown skin and cool cool grace and we say hello like men,
I stalk his facebook later and he seems amazing.
And you look happy.
Every winter I lose a glove or a hat,
Put on a tinsy bit of weight
Like a slender grizzly ready to hibernate
Every spring I lose an umbrella
Actually, I’ve never bought one
At some point I’m caught out like a drowned salmon
Every summer I get a heat rash below my neck
My West African ancestors look down and wonder why
Stranger still, when the sun is out I lose a sock or a tie
Every autumn, I plant something new
Winds and hurricanes come and shake my branches
I lose a friend or some summer romances
So in sun, sleet, slick or slide
Which season will I lose my heart to Love
And would she trust me at all?
Summer’s golden locs
Shimmering in autumn’s breeze
Wither in winter