Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I do not mind the embrace

I do not mind the embrace

By Taban lo Liyong (Ugandan Poet)

I do not mind the embrace
I do not mind the kiss.
You can in fact do anything with me.
I am already weak-
        the veil is gone
        the hair has tumbled in disarray
        my nipple is turgid
        my private part is already wet—
In fact to leave me in midstream is bad enough.

But it is afterwards—
         when you’ve squeezed your last drop
         when you’re snoring your satisfied head off
         when, as Aristotle says, you've purged your emotion
That my hell begins:
          my curling up like a centipede
          my vulva squeezing and yawning…
          my refusal to see your face again
          my detestation of man for prevailing over me
          my self-hatred for having let myself go
          my self-hatred for having failed myself yet again…
It is after that my torture begins.

Taban Lo Liyong, one of the most stimulating figures in East African writing, was born in Uganda in 1938. He was the first African to receive a Master of Fine Arts degree from the famous Writers Workshop of the University of Iowa. Taban Lo Liyong's poetry bounces with insulting agility across one's prejudices. It doesn't all have to be taken seriously, but the wit stings when it hits.

This segment from a longer poem takes imaginative leap and presents the poet as a woman, sexually unfulfilled, angry with her husband or lover for his deeply unconscious sense of privilege and superiority. Does the male poet recognize himself in the woman’s description of how men are? Perhaps, it reflects the sentiments  and  bottled-up emotions of obedient women in many parts of the world too.

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