I wish you’d left me in the dark. I wish you’d kept the thick layers of wool wrapped tightly around my head, leaving only slits for me to breathe. It’s not as though I didn’t know. We both know how sweet denial can be – thick, sickly, and comforting. I knew.
I’d caught a whiff of the dark lies rolled with the white ones – perfectly kneaded and skillfully served. I noted the shifty look – that thing your eyes do when your mask slips out of place. I never missed the involuntary tremor whenever your heart broke into a sweat when the call was too close for comfort. I’m seasoned at the game; and after years of hiding, I read the neon signs you fought so hard to gun down. But I chose to ignore them because it’s better for my fragile heart.
Ignorance may not be an excuse, but it sure can be bliss sometimes. I reveled in it; drank from the well until I was blinded by it. Out of sight threw it way past the back of my mind, but today… today you ripped off the wool and shone the truth in my face with such intensity that my blindness is now of another sort.
I’m hurting for you. Hurting to see you hurt yourself with the very hands I once held to seek strength. You’re sinking claws into your skin and bleeding rebellion when we both know you know better; can do better; can be better. We can all be better, but you smile – a bright crescent etched from eye to eye, draped in sadness. I see it beyond reason as there’s nothing to doubt. What is there to deny when each side of my face has been slapped with confirmation.
I’m trying not to cry. Holding the fort on the periphery of my dam that threatens to drown me with grief. I’m holding it back because I refuse to be overcome, overtaken, or overruled. I hold it back although you insist on touching the fire to see if it’s hot¹. I’ll keep my tears at bay even as you feel the burn but choose to hold on as though the heat will subside. This time I won’t cry. I won’t.
© LaYinka Sanni, August 2014.
¹ “Some people insist on touching the fire to see if it’s hot” – originally attributed to Jasmin Begum Kennedy.