[Poetry] On-Again/Off-Again by Kate Hampton


Kate Hampton

I/ Me, I Love You

Gai, Nai, nakupenda
Nakupenda sana, supuu
But this love is unhe? Unhealthy
You’ve boxed me, and I keep coming back

Eh! Nairobi, I surrender
You’ve hardened me
Are hardening me but
I’m not sure I want to get harder

Eh, eh, eh, eh, eh,
Wewe! How could you?
You’ve battered, bruised and betrayed me too many times
And I know you, you’ll do it again

I come, we stay
I know how you look in the night
And in the sun, the morning after
But you refuse to say what we are

Nairofi, give me rain in Jan and I’ll love you
Give me rudeboys and thieves and conmen
And conmen and thieves and rudeboys
And me? I love you

But I don’t know if I can live with you anymore
I’ve bent over, bent over, bent over, bent over
How many more “daggerings” can I take?
Nairobi, we need a break

II/ Make-up Sex

There’s snow in Carolina
But in Nai it’s mango season
Avocados will be ten bob soon and the prodigal
Sun has dried the mud outside our flat

The road to work is finished though
The real paint was eaten so
The China shit is gone already
But traffic’s moving

The five bob bhagia lady I thought had moved is back
And my nyama guy just stopped shorting my portions
The six year old next door learned my name is not Mzungu
And I found my favorite book for fifty on Moi Ave

Gai, Nai, nakupenda
I’m sorry I said all those nasty things
Mpenzi, sema. We’re back together, ama…?
Uko wapi?



Kate Hampton’s poetry, creative nonfiction and reportage has appeared in The Chimurenga Chronic, The East African and Kwani?. Someday her fiction will appear somewhere. She is Associate Editor at Jalada (jalada.org / @JaladaAfrica) and Assistant Editor at Kwani Trust (kwani.org / @KwaniTrust). Tweet her @KateCHampton.



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