“Needless to say, hair is the joy and terror of Ethiopian girlhood. In my grandmother’s time, my great grandfather would mount a horse and take his only daughter out of nine children, miles to the best hair braider in the area.”

“It occurred to me then that Kemi was unlike any person I knew. I’d never known anyone to trick a pastor like that, and have him not see through it; never had anyone sneak into my bed without warning and steal my sleep, disappearing by morning and causing me to doubt the verity of the memory.”

“but emotion is, after all, an artfully conjured gesture /
a dance behind the raised sheets /
of audience that is not audience”

“My numerous damages are nocturnal. They sleep with me, /
holding my face like a mask as I mistake poison /
throbbing in my cheek for a heart in my mouth”

“It comes from warriors. It is young. / Its eyes are brown, its fingers long. / It shakes the yellow fruit to get / At any sweetness. It bites, it’s alive”

“We are in the swelter of a kitchen and the noise of too many pots opening and closing over the laughter of children does not wake the neighbours because we are the neighbours. We are surrounded by ourselves in the shroud of ourselves. Who can see us here but us?”

“In the aftermath of Moi’s death, his choirs of praise came to the fore again. He was exalted as an African statesman, a patriot, a hero who did his best to bring democracy to the continent. However, to many in the country, memories of Moi’s tyranny remain.”

“years and years later, the reconciliation, it happens in a dream. We stand face to face for the first time – maybe the first time ever – and in her hand, palm open to the sky, are rings: one for each promise made, unkept, but here again, a complete circle, glimmering in that selfsame sunshine from years ago.”