In all my years—

it always begins—

never have I ever, followed by

many things that mean

nothing at all.


Tínúkẹ́ always leaves herself

at the door before she enters

a room like a little girl

she remembers the books

her mother stacked

on her

head; back arched, eyes look

straight ahead, up and down the parlour

do not graze the green settee

with your dirty white

socks as you practise

how not to be yourself.


Never have

I ever, someone will say

to me as I wait

to be told nice things I do not believe

about myself.

I take ten strides forward. I turn. I lift up my head

to see if anyone will say that I am good.


Tínúkẹ́ never remembers to collect

the little pieces of herself

she sheds when she enters a room.