Poetry by Fui Can-Tamakloe

this is where you grew up.
where you played in the dirt from morning till evening,
on those days when there was no school, and the parents were in a good mood.
this is where you learned how to ride a bike,
after falling so many times your legs were more scar than skin.
this is where you run home as soon as the streetlight came on,
because you didn’t want to be so late that
your grandma greeted you at the door with her cane.

this is where you grew up.
this is where you hid behind books, entering into worlds that didn’t exist
but felt so real.
this is where every adult was a spy for your parents, and you got told on so many times
you learned to snitch on yourself as soon as you got home.
this is the place where you met your many firsts.
first haircut, first scar, first bully, first fight,
and first kiss, under the stairs, on a night when you both should have been in bed.

this is where you grew up.
and even after your friends left, one by one, you stayed.
it was you who taught the younger children the rules for pilolo.
it was you who showed them to make small poles from discarded wood from the carpentery shop.
it was you who taught them how to hide during pampanaa, and how to shout ‘For You!’ whenever you shouted ‘Stay!’

and yet, when you left, they didn’t stay for you.
when you came back, they did not remember you.
nothing did.
the walls of the buildings did not remember you because they had seen too many coats of paint since you were gone.
the younger ones did not remember you because their memories of their childhood were of only happy things, and your leaving was not.
the traders remembered you, but they didn’t see you as a child anymore,
they saw you as a man, and their sales were in your pockets.
they welcomed you with open arms, and palms that groped you to see where your money was kept.

and that day, when the old street light flickered on, you didn’t have a home to run to.
the grandma who waited for you everyday,
some days with cane in hand, most days with a warm plate of food,
could not wait for anyone anymore.

this is where you grew up,
but you no longer belonged.

Aside writing short stories and poetry, Fui Can-Tamakloe enjoys a
number of things which include teaching Literature part time, running
his mouth on Twitter, and a cold beer at questionable times of the day.