Lola Shoneyin is the author of So All the Time I was Sitting on an Egg, Song of a Riverbird, and The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives. The poems published below are taken from her 2010 poetry collection: For the Love of Flight.

He creeps into my bedroom
when the night is most alive.
Unafraid, he feels for the walls
that will bring him to my door.
It has been four years since I spat him
from a lip in my womb.
Yet every night, he crawls back in.

The first light pries through the curtains.
He kisses sleep from my eyes
and pinches my lips to seize my first words;
he wants them for himself.
I breathe in the smell of milk
that has never left his forehead.
God, if I could birth this boy again,
I would.

I watch him at breakfast.
His face is crushed like an eggshell.
For him, food is slow, fist-under-chin torture.
Mother, let this plate pass over me, he pleads.
Then he attacks the sweet jar.
He’s a boy soldier.
His face is ever smeared
with chocolate paint.

I watch him from my window.
Bent over like a rainbow,
he scours the garden for things
his fingers are drawn to.
He seeks me bearing gifts:
hollow beetles, strange stones, flattened cans.
I push them back into his metallic hands.

At night, he pulls me down
on my knees and moistens my lips
with kisses.
Good Night, Mother, he says
and walks away
from me.
My insides flap about like a wet loincloth.
Come morning, come soon.

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