Statistic in Waiting

In the grocery store, my love lets go
of my hand and we part;
the red sea of cold meats and bulging
tomatoes splitting us beneath
the stranger’s condemning
eyes. Our love must be a burning bush,
a miracle in the way it is still surviving.
Our gender is enough to mark us target
in this land, dressed permanently in black
for all the girls who did not make it
home. Who will not grow old.
Together we are another statistic-
in-waiting. So we choose security
estates and townhouse complexes.
Do not dream of existing in a free-
standing home with no neighbours pressed
close enough to share the scrape of emptied
plates. We do not dare to imagine electric
fenceless gardens, to hold
wrap around porch silence in our future.
At the traffic circle a man screams 
LESBIAN at me, and I do not
know whether this makes me safer
or more vulnerable, this being named
what I am. I know only that we do not
go on date nights, only date days. That I learnt
to watch my back in the dark
before I learnt what love was. I do not know
if or when the newspapers’ daily prayer
will be my name.

About the Author:

Melissa Sussens (she/her) is a queer South African veterinarian and poet. Her work has appeared in Capsule StoriesHorse Egg LiteraryKissing DynamiteSFWP Quarterly and Anti-Heroin Chic, among others. She was runner up for the New Contrast National Poetry Prize. By day she works as a small animal veterinarian and whenever she’s not doctoring animals, she assists in teaching Megan Falley’s Poems That Don’t Suck international online writing course. Melissa lives in Cape Town with her partner and their two dogs. Find her on Instagram @melissasussens and on Twitter @girlstillwrites.

Featured image by Susan Wilkinson/Unsplash