All the men I’ve been with have said I love you with their dirty hands digging into my nest. They’ve soiled the leaves and made all the building a mockery. And I danced over the mess they made, an attempt to make art out of a crushed heart. They’ve called my name and made it sound like a siren cry, always in emergency. And I’ve loved the mess after. I’ve loved the look of endings. I’ve loved the horrible sound of sobbing in the night. The fixing be a beginning. My hands searching the rumbles, making the nest clean for the next man, any man, to walk by and pause to say I love you. But not all the men I’ve been with have said I love you, to me. It’s a lie I made up to cover up the truth of how I throw all myself away. If I say he loved me, then it makes it okay that I let him stay. If he loved me, it makes it okay that I feel hurt. If I say he said he loved me, then I have friends over my heartbreak and we nurse it through the night cursing him. But the truth is I am feet running from loving myself. I am hands that would not hold any of myself. I am a mouth afraid to say its own name. Afraid to say, I do not know how to love me anymore.
Busisiwe Mahlangu, born 1996, is a writer and poet from Mamelodi, Pretoria. She is the founder of Lwazilubanzi Project, an NPO that focus on literature and creating learning spaces in townships and public schools. Her debut collection, Surviving Loss has been adapted for theatre at the South African State Theatre as part of the Incubator Programme 2017/2019. Mahlangu has performed her work all over South Africa and internationally in Sweden and USA. Busisiwe is currently studying for a BA in Creative Writing at the University of South Africa.