Haneefah Bello

At a table having drinks with my girls

Haneefah Bello

Haneefah Bello

My name is Haneefah Bello. I am a poet and short story writer from Ekiti State, Nigeria. I live in Lagos, Edo or Ibadan, depending on what I am doing at the moment when I am asked. So, I write from any of these places. I am a female, and a Muslim. My pronouns are she/her. Currently, I am obtaining a bachelor's degree in Law at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. I am a new writer and though I have very few poems published, I do not have any piece under other forms of writing published.

5min read
Artwork By Sorsen

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Narrated by Haneefah Bello


At a table having drinks with my girls

Narrated by Haneefah Bello

At a table having drinks with my girls

we are talking with muted lips.     

one of the girls makes a joke about babies, we 

laugh with all our teeth;

another talks about her husband coming               

home           in another woman's skin, we shake

     our heads,

           swirl salt around our tongues — 

that wretched rag. may sickness blacken her face.

we are not                                                          talking

      about all the            things we are              

  talking about—

whose husband's baby is running down our thighs,

there is blood                under our manicured nails                      that, too

                                                          we are not talking about.

the music is loud.         everything is loud now 

      especially our chests,  howling with memories 

of forbidden men,                                      their names 


                                out of our throats      

at night,

     but our voices stay hushed—                                         trapped 

    in our treacherous mouths like mummified corpses.

 under the table,

our hands dig trenches in our knees,              and we 

           can't stop falling         

                                            into the wrong beds,

                                                    into other women's kitchen sinks      — our bodies 

      swelling with suds until we become graveyards of 

bubbles  — like elusive ghosts,        

            can't stop falling into a curse

                       on the lips of righteous women.                        somebody makes a joke  

about calories,                                

  we laugh so hard,

all our teeth fall off.                

                                    we do not pick them up.

      all our teeth do not belong to us  


                                                                         they belong  

 to other women's men.

Ode to Sidi

dhur & my aunt Sidis's oversized hijab shrouding

my childish frame.

damp towels & orange seeds & her

coal pot & her hands—     onion hands      fat, fat hands   hands 

so large they can bathe 8 children      her four, my mother's 

four, & all the grimy children on I. C. E. road  

& my aunt Sidi freshly round from childbirth -

puff-puff, chilled fanta


a bouncing baby boy.

& her old, brooding tote bag  hanging on       

the wall —observer of all our births, our bruises, our blue lives.

& the dog-eared arabic texts in her old, brooding tote bag     

& my aunt Sidi blue with want                         blue with            

the smell of laundry left unfinished 

                          blue with her personal histories of 

eid chinaware       soul stews       loud pillows   

milk teeth thrown over roofs —  prelude to rebellion 

& her plump cheeks               & her smacking hands —      whitlow hands,

& her rich voice ushering all the children inside for their evening baths.