The Body Poems

CONTENT WARNING: RAPE, CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

[Image description: black and white photograph of a statue of a young person cast in dark metal. Their back faces the camera and is illuminated from behind, and they are looking over their left shoulder.] tomvdh1 / Creative Commons

[Image description: black and white photograph of a statue of a young person cast in dark metal. Their back faces the camera and is illuminated from behind, and they are looking over their left shoulder.]

tomvdh1 / Creative Commons

Damaged Doors

When the thief came again
The moon slept
Stars hid behind the clouds
Howling winds announced his arrival

The thief had come the night before
But had left because of the gooey mess
My visitor usually brought

I was alone and afraid
My throat conspired against me and closed up
My spirit took leave of my body
And watched with horror
As he fiddled with the locks on my door

The thief did not ask for the keys
He simply brought out his tool
And broke through with one push
Damaging it
Damaging me

That night the wailing of the skies
Mirrored the one in my heart
The thief stole my treasure and left
Leaving my door damaged and leaking

And the next day
He smiled at me
As we gathered to say grace

 


what it means to wear this body

i was only twelve when I realized
that being female made me
a public commodity,
my body a museum of sorts.
every hand sought to know the histories
hidden in me, and I was an attraction
for bodies seeking knowledge.

being a girl meant being a curator
of ancient artifacts –
of the various methods of violating a soul.
growing into womanhood meant learning
to be an object on display
at the market square:
fiddled, weighed and appraised.

my value was determined by market forces
of demand and supply.
men haggled and priced;
many wanted just a piece of me
and rarely was there any
that wanted
the whole product.

to be fair, none of them knew what
that was -
neither did I.
i was what they said I was.
i inhabited a borrowed body,
lived life on a lease.
i was twelve when I signed away
my rights of ownership.
 

 

This Body Is A Cage

I lost my voice at the age of twelve
To a man I called father.

In the depth of my mother’s eyes
I found a shared fate -

The same fate she shared
With her mother.

Ours is a lineage of women
With muted dreams.

Many nights I lie awake,
Remembering the violence

That ferried me into womanhood
Gagged and bound,

Screaming
Until silence became my only protest.

Visit my unmarked grave
And exhume my buried body.

It is a curse,
This opaque casing;

No-one sees through the anatomy
To the humanity within.

All I am
Are holes and roles.

This body that has become a cage,
And I
A restless animal
Seeking liberation.


Tope Ogundare is a Nigerian Psychiatrist who is in love with the written word. Writing for him is cathartic. He has been published in Kalahari Review, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Pilcrow and Dagger, DASH, Snapdragon, Intima, Brittle Paper, TinyTim Literary Review, and Moonchild.