I Can Only Talk of Flamingos: Alexis Teyie


Let me tell you something true then. The first time I discovered I was good at something, I was in Standard 7. It was right after P.E. Our feet were red with dust from the football pitch, all the boys were rowdy and sweaty, and everyone was eager for lunchtime (rice and beans). Ah anyway you don’t need me to tell you. You know how these things went. There I was, wondering if my spoon had dropped out of my pocket when Timo walked up to me. Now, it’s important to understand that Timo was the first in our year to grow a beard, and his Adam’s apple jutted out like a beast I didn’t want to provoke. I needed to look amiable, but not too much, not like a sissy. My specs were in class so he was just a wobbly block of flesh, but a menacing one all the same. This blurry bag of testosterone says to me, kijana, come with me. I’m breathing through my mouth at this point. There’s a trickle of sweat in my ass crack. That’s uncomfortable. But I follow. For ten minutes, I follow—a long way from witnesses and potential saviours. Without warning, Timo stops short and swings round to face me for the first time in that eternity. Get on your knees, he says. Piga magoti, as if I don’t understand English like all these village buggers. I mean, maybe I’d only have to do his homework? We would both fail anyway. Maybe he wanted me to lick his shoes. OK, that wouldn’t be so bad; I hadn’t even brushed my teeth that morning. OK. OK, not so bad. But he starts fumbling with the button of his shorts. His hand finally steadies when he grabs the zip. Down. He’s flying commando. He pulls my head forward, towards him. I understand. I’ve heard stories in the dorms. I’ve read Mills and Boon just like everybody else. I can’t decide if he’s the rake or the damsel, and the rhythm pushes thoughts out of my mind unfinished, so I stop thinking. There’s more saliva in me than I dreamed possible. I feel powerful. I clamp down with my lips. I won’t let go. Pumping. Something inside him starts to unfasten. I can feel it in my mouth, gathering its skirts, preparing to rush out and meet me in a swirl of fabric. In the romance novels, they always talk about milk and honey, but what I remember most acutely from that first hit is the fumes, the smell of limp defeat.       

To read this story in full, order your copy of the drr issue of Place here.

Alexis Teyie is a co-founder and poetry editor with Enkare Review. Alex co-authored a children’s book, Short Cut (2015), and published a poetry chapbook, Clay Plates: Broken Records of Kiswahili Proverbs (2016), through the African Poetry Book Fund and Akashic Books (see on LitHub). Her poetry, short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in collections like Routledge’s Handbook of Queer Studies (2019); Queer Africa II (GALA); ID & Water (SSDA) among others. She also sings for a secret choir in Nairobi.

Illustration by Angela Chilufya

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