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Alright, mother, I admit it! Sometimes rebellion was
a sour drop on my tongue – I was so enamoured
of its aftertaste I had to have more. Those nights
when I was silent, my mouth was a zoo – a horde

of secret creatures
leaping from cheek to cheek.
Yet thinking about it now, I wonder if you didn’t
see them flash across my eyes, scatting in colours
from lemon to grape, a cat’s gaze narrowing my lids

before I fell asleep. I hope you will forgive me
my suspicion that you stealthily let me savour
my little victories so my lips would be sealed – so

you would have your peace – because no matter
how often I play those serpentine hours
over, I can’t seem to erase your knowing smile.

Nii Ayikwei Parkes

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