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To Describe a Sofa

How do you describe a sofa
to someone who has
never seen a chair before?

Do you talk of its soft and exposed top
or how it provides support?
but so does a young woman’s décolleté
and an old woman’s brassiere.

Do you say its legs are four?
two at the back, two at the front
but so has a goat and a dog
(and humans at the sound of gunshots).

So how do you describe a sofa
to someone who in all their years
has never seen a chair?

You don’t, you don’t describe the sofa
to someone who in all their life
has only ever sat on rocks
she won’t believe it, that there exists
in this world, something else to sit upon
that would have her back
and not grate her behind.

So you must take her by the hand
and wherever it may be
you lead this woman to a velvet sofa
you let her see it, feel it, sit upon it
see what world of difference there is
between rocks and the comfort
that plushy seats give.

So you led her to it
made her see it, feel it, sit upon it
But she baths it with keen distrust
and nothing would make her believe it
that the sofa shrouds no hidden motive
to later unfurl on her a painful fate
like all the rocks she’d sat on before.

She took the sofa home anyway
(since everyone needs a thing to sit upon)
but wrapped it in daily suspicion
and handled it the way she did
with all the rocks she’s had before.

She cracked her oil nuts on it
she milled her pepper on it
she spread her wet clothes on it
let goats scratch their backs on it
she sharpened her knives on it
she left the sofa out in the rain
just like all the rocks she’s had before.

Tolu Akinyemi

Tolu Akinyemi is an award-winning Nigerian writer and poet. His often-humorous writings are known for their keen perspectives and wittily engaging dissections of humans’ lived experiences. He is the author of three books and currently lives in London, United Kingdom.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Deep and engaging.

    I could relate to the poem all through, and the thought of a woman who has known nothing but heartbreaks, keeps coming to my mind.

    Those who know nothing else but pain will think that all there exists is pain. Even when genuine love and tenderness knocks at the door, they’ll look at it with fear and mistrust. I pray all those suffering from one ache or the other find healing and the courage to start again, free.

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