Dike-Ogu Chukwumerije is a writer, an author, a poet, and a performance poet. He has a Law degree from the University of Abuja and a masters degree from the University of London. He is the author of several books – including the celebrated poetry collection, ‘The Revolution Has No Tribe: A Collection of Poems on African History, Culture and Society’. An award winning Performance Poet, he has won several Performance Poetry Competitions in Nigeria, including the prestigious Abuja Literary Society (ALS) Grand Slam. His novel, ‘Urichindere’ recently won the 2013 Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Prize for Prose Fiction. He maintains two blogs, dikechukwumerije.blogspot.com and touchmeintheheart.blogspot.com. His works are available on Jumia, Amazon and Youtube.

 

ANDANTE ANDANTE

Ah! Touch me gently. Baby, take it slow. I agree there are places where my heart feels like stone. But – it will shock you – there are moments when butterfly wings could break my skin. So, let’s not be impatient with the process. For we all come with masks. Taking them off can be as delicate as waxing; peeling back layers of defense mechanisms carefully cultivated over years of mixing up with the wrong kind of people. Honestly, there are those who cannot see beyond the swell of one’s breasts, the weight of one’s wallet, the size of one’s hips. And they come smelling like Chanel, talking like U.I. graduate with a masters from Imperial College, but there’s not enough polish in the world that can compensate for lack of depth, want of character, lack of heart.

True. There’s no way to come through things like these without a dent or two. But no one wears their battle scars on their faces. So, when you un-dress me, don’t gasp out loud. You see, I wasn’t always this quiet. No. I wrote pages of poetry. Yes, if you had met me years ago, I would have shouted it out from the top of any roof: ‘I love you.’ But the girl I was with said it made her uncomfortable.

See, that’s the thing about a broken heart. Sometimes, it never really heals properly, like the way it was before it was first shattered, and even after you move on there are always things that stay with you. So, you look in the mirror and clench your jaws: ‘I will never let anyone do this to me again.’ It’s the tragic irony of life, isn’t it? That the very same road that leads to dead-ends leads to true love; through the same gates of trust, down the same narrow paths of hope, gently putting those things that can only be totally safe if they stay inside you in the hands of someone else.

But – ah! – don’t get too cocky now; thinking you earned it all the first day we kissed, the key to every locked door. There are still things you don’t know about me, may never know about me. Listen – and don’t forget it – if the Past is as good a teacher as they say it is, then there’s a darkness lurking on the far side of everyone. All of a sudden, I’m not firm enough for you, funny enough for you, rich enough for you. Fear – the cold fear of rejection – is the only real obstacle to total intimacy. But do you know the future? Can you guarantee it, here and now, that even on the worst days, the sound of my voice will stay the darkness in you?

So, what’s the rush? Trust is like stacking empty bottles, one on top of the other; like performing open-heart surgery on a three-month-old baby; like reversing the effects of global warming; or getting a wild horse to eat out of your hands. You cannot give up at every failure, or the sun would have stopped trying, long ago, to tease the seed out of its skin. No. Let me tell you what to do. You don’t really win hearts with love poetry and candle-lit dinners, you win them with time – every morning I wake up and you’re still here, when we shout at each other at the top of our voices but you reach across at night and squeeze my hand still, these things speak more eloquently than Achebe. True. I don’t need a serenade tonight, baby. Just touch me gently. Just take it slow.

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