Father

By Ngwatilo Mawiyoo

I love my father; my father loves me.
He teaches me the way I should go.
My father shows me how to survive
and be a good person. He tells me what
I ought to believe. He knows me better
than I know myself. My father knows I want
to go to high school. He says I must
marry. Fathers do the best for their children.
My mother opens the gate and tells me to run,
report him to the police if I must. But

my family when my father finds out, if he is arrested.
Disobedience is bad is bad will hurt
my family. My father knows me,
my father cares for me. He is the head
of our family, he does what is right for us.

I stay. A man I do not know comes to our home.
An old man. My father tells me I must follow
where the man leads me.
              My father loves me,
my father knows me better than I know myself,
my father will show me how to survive.

             I walk behind the man.
He leads me to his house. When we arrive it is night.
He tells me to prepare a meal.
My mother has taught me how, so
I do. I clean the dishes.
My mother has taught me how.
The man tells me to prepare the sleeping place.
I am afraid
though no one has taught me how.
I tell myself my father loves me, he knows me
better than I know myself, my father will show me–

The things that happen in the night
no one has prepared me for. Not my mother,
not my father, no one. I tell myself my father loves
me, my father knows better. Father’s do the best–

In my mind, my father’s face turns black.
It cannot be seen.

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