Elizabeth Mudenyo Literature Poetry

the way I keep coming back

Elizabeth Mudenyo

the way I keep coming back
I’m sure a part of me has stayed

at age 12 I walked gaze lowered
until my best friend told me not to

and looking back I want to unfurl
my fingers bent on impossibility

my head filled with futures for
somebody else and their body

I did the work of becoming and
erasing myself as a teenager

(making myself by omission)
building over stories but the
main tenants were unwavering

there’s something to moving
past wanting to be nothing

there’s something to growing
out of feeling small

something sweats through all the layers
bursts and unbuttons out of uniform

I am not afraid of falling prey to loitering
debt bad grades men parents disappointment

I am not caught in transit between authorities
feeling like property down to my hands

done misplacing longing with apology
leaving real friends over emails

perhaps too quick to unstick and try again
too stubborn to turn past my shoulder

when I circle back I raise
the parts of me I know there


Elizabeth Mudenyo is a poet, artist and arts manager based in Toronto. She was a fellow of the 2018 Poetry Incubator, and an organizer with Writing While Black. Compelled by intersectional narratives of Black joy and mental health, she is working on her first poetry chapbook.