My parents were teachers (and they did not know it)
Aman Bibi Gray
I would take little bits of the sun-warmed life
and tuck them into my breast.
Crammed behind my molars. Seep through my toes, run away; sweep away my footsteps from the sand.
It was always little, little:
too-thin white lines on my ankles,
knowing how long I’d have to watch the clock tick. ‘Fore I reached out, white cloth.
Swing my hand through the air. Ghost fingers tangle in mine, her laugh on my lips. Piece of my cornea: every suit of the shopfront.
(My pockets: phone, keys, my dad’s pocketknife. Couldn’t do without all three.)
When I looked and felt nothing but the want to kiss, to hold hands, to lie together and sleep. (Of course it wasn’t a nothing but. Not to me. Not to me.)
Pulled by the hand,
whispers behind oak library-shelves:
and my head hit all their laminated spines,
but her fingers were so tight in my curls that I didn’t much care.
My wife holds me like a neighbour’s baby, or an orange,
like something precious.
my password-locked everything.
how my lips shape into lies when I’m half-awake. Indeed, I still do not let her wash the blood from my socks.
she will wait
for me to speak of it all,
she will not ask my heart
My ears are overflowing, still. And I turn behind when we walk. So that my footprints will be wiped from the soil —
Converse-stamp by Converse-stamp.
Aman Bibi Gray is a writer and photographer based in Durban, South Africa. They love chasing their three rabbits around the house, playing the tabla, and crocheting — though not all at the same time!