Our Hands Like Rain

By Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi

This failure of ours.
This inability to speak
your language,
to read your lips
and hear the faint breaths
a medium too weak
to carry the strained
words to our flutter of ears,

to leave your loneliness
in the light of the living room.
Everything about you
is wistful
and wishing
to be and not to be.

We are with you
wondering from the outside
with no clear answers
with no mouth
to ask the questions.

We are a family
that walk through fire
and pretend not to
smell the smoke
clinging to our clothes,
our hair, our skin, our hands
like rain, trying to dampen
the flames, and yet
we will not call it by its name
we will not call it by its name
we will not call it by its name.

After the fire licked you from head to toe and left you soft and naked, did you come out smelling of smoke? Did you ask to be washed? Did your hands beg your mother for absolution? Did you look your father in the eye to say I am suffocating?

Love will restore you.
Love will heal this human error,
this inability to speak your language.

A boy gone mad
paranoid or traumatised?
Terrorised by unknown voices
that creep into his ears as he sleeps
and refuse to leave at daybreak.
When the cell is compromised
the virus seeps in,
when the firewall breaks down
the hacker gets in,
takes his tools out. First, he burns sage
cleansing the boy of his grip on reality,
smoking out sanity through open pores.

The damage is done, but it is nowhere to be seen
he says there is fire crawling beneath his skin.

But the doctor checked –
there are no blisters, no marks, no ticks, no scars –
it is all in your head. Boy gone mad,
there is nothing to be seen.

He says a stranger broke into the house, tried to kill him.
But there were no signs of breaking and entering –
No signs of struggle, no marks, no ticks, no scars –
It is all in his mind. Boy gone mad.
There is nothing to be seen.

We are a family that walk through fire
and pretend not to smell the smoke
clinging to our clothes,
our hair, our skin, our hands like rain,
trying to dampen the flames, and yet
we will not call it by its name
we will not call it by its name
we will not call it by its name.

Credits

Directed by Matthew Thompson.

"Our Hands Like Rain" by Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi. Reproduced by kind permission of the author. Originally published in TONGUES (2020), a Black queer publication by Origins Eile in association with Black Pride Ireland.