Painting Portraits

They ask me what my mother looks like
and I tell them her heart is purple pulp
battered from the squeezes and tugs
knowing Baba might be another face
stamped with a number to be matched to a body.

I tell them her eyes are crimson plates
their stark green offerings ran long ago
now we wade in the estuary of her
sorrow for every loss uncountable.

I tell them her hands are deep bowls of blue
overflowing with gut-deep pleas
swirling with whispered ‘please’
raised for any serving of His Mercy.

They ask me what my mother looks like
and I tell them my mothers all look the same
anguish paints the same strokes
in pigmentation of depths unknown
because pain, despair, and shame don’t have a colour.

© LaYinka Sanni, July 2014

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