TO BE MY FATHER
February 10, 2000
My mother's purse rang,
Her hand to her ear:
My father's voice,
A threatening thunder.
My mother rushed all of her hopes
Into the store and locked
The evening with a huge padlock.
She held my hand, we boarded
A danfo bus. A hospital,
A doctor, two nurses. My mother
Dropped her purse on my laps,
Went into a room with them.
A doctor, two nurses, they came
Out and told me to fill their past
With my footprints. In the room:
My mother on a bed, her eyes
shut like death.
Her lower lip held between her teeth,
A peg holding a shirt. Blood trickled
Like tears from her skirt, ran
Across her legs. I was ten,
But I knew what it took
To be my father was to cause
A woman's pain.
we watched the gap in her teeth
when she boasted of their future:
they moved the television,
the video, the chairs, the carpet,
even Nelson Mandela was pulled
from the wall and kept inside
their last child's rucksack. They did
not stop—until they compressed
their memories into a truck.
They left the doors and windows
unlocked—the truck drove off—I peeked.
Found only a mangled mirror.
I sat before it, staring
clearly at my past in broken shapes.
All that had come and gone: my toy plane
which crashed inside the neighbour's
kitchen, my water gun, broken
by my sister's boyfriend,
and my father, who I was
seeing again through this mirror.
D.M. Aderibigbe is a proud native of Nigeria. He holds a B.A in History and Strategic Studies from the University of Lagos. He's the author of Etymology of Love and Hatred, selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for the APBF New Generation African Poets Chapbook Series. A recipient of 2015 honours from The Dickinson House and the Entrekin Foundation. His poems appear in African American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Colorado Review, Notre Dame Review, Poet Lore, Spillway, Stand, and have been featured on Verse Daily.