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Once, in South Africa,
I became violently sick after eating white rice
meant for the dogs.
It was in the fridge in a glass bowl,
misty with cold, wrapped tightly in cling film.
I remember this
because it was around the time
I was forcefully kissed
by a man who had no business
attempting such a thing.
An early morning, in my single bed,
the rest of the house empty and silent.
It was Valentine’s Day–
the irony is not lost
on me.
My ankles had been bitten
a hundred times by mosquitoes
in the night.
Sejo had called immediately after,
with her art,
but I pretended not to hear the door.
I was too busy bathing. Contemplating
the ways of men
and women, and where were the lines
and what makes a heart behave
in such a strange way.
I was barely eighteen.
Out of necessity,
and to preserve the secret for her,
I rode weeks later with that same man
in his truck.
Suddenly, beyond the dreaded bend,
there was the stench of fire.
He swerved, and I jumped out
and I was running up the grassy bank,
collapsing with laughter,
as black smoke billowed from the exhaust.
The helpless fear in his face
I had never seen before.
Eventually, kneeling on the red dirt
beneath the rain,
he laughed too, wildly,
slapping my shoulder like a father
on that blind mountain road.
We were all right after that.
But somewhere a star had slipped silently
from its hinges,
a wall mirror that cannot
be put back,
though I am eternally standing on my tiptoes.

About Louise

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    1. Thanks. It is pretty much non-fiction… based on an experience I had during my gap year in South Africa, when I was 18.

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