Embraces at Bedtime – A poem by Daphine Arinda

Illustration by Diana Bwengye after the poem Embraces at Bedtime by Daphine Arinda

…The repetitive phrases in “Embraces at Bedtime” call to mind the intimacy and comfort lost between a mother and her daughter when the mother is scarred by sexual abuse from their own childhood. The underlying narrative casts a sinister shadow over the childlike rhyme of its structure. … Read the full intro here.

EMBRACES AT BEDTIME

On nights she asks me to tuck her in
I lay in bed with her
Wishing sweet dreams for Kijon.

Like prey in hiding, besides her I stiffen
Yet an embrace would warm and lull her
On nights she asks me to tuck her in.

Embraces at bedtime are memories of aversion
I am afraid and I never touch her
Wishing sweet dreams for Kijon.

I remember embraces with darkness sealed within
Vile touches that make innocence whither
On nights she asks me to tuck her in.

I wait to escape when sleep does her in
For this darkness, I cannot transfer
Wishing sweet dreams for Kijon.

I sing lullabies in a hushed tone
“Hush, hush my little one”, I whisper
On nights she asks me to tuck her in
Wishing sweet dreams for Kijon.

Daphine Arinda
Performing poet, writer and lawyer

Daphine Arinda is a Uganda performing poet, writer and lawyer, specialized in Research and Public Interest Litigation. As a lawyer, Daphine seeks to contribute to social justice in her country. As a performance poet, she aims at participating to authentic Uganda literature. She also worked for the East African Community Youth Ambassadors Platform.

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