I Am Always Moving toward You

Daniela Yohannes (UK/Guadeloupe), Black Oil (2019), Acrylic on Linen, 116 X 89 CM / Courtesy of Addis Fine Art

What we do not say to each other
bites speech into ultimatums
a guillotine chorus
you never
you always
we go on like this, skinning words
until body is a wet star thrown into desire
and we are both a panting weapon.

I think of you that way

not aging, cool inside the fire
tongue curved into the tail of a dog
touching and waiting to touch again
an offering that does not consume itself

does my name come up?

a thirst lines the border of my thighs.
Like hunger, they cannot remember being full

a woman with a wife is a wheel
that will leave with your body
and whoever touches you next cannot arrive

do you think a well knows when it is full?

Love, I am flammable
until the brown grass of my body glows through the night
and my name softens to ash in my mouth

the loss of you blows about me
can you touch me and tell me what it says?

I must tell you that I am more beautiful now than you remember

Vuyelwa Maluleke was shortlisted for the Writivism Short Story Prize (2019) and the Brunel University African Poetry Prize (2014). She is the author of the chapbook Things We Lost in the Fire and a slam champion of the Word and Sound 2015 Poetry league competition with an essay in the recent publication Selves: An Afro Anthology of Creative Nonfiction (2018).