“Suck my stomach in” by Vangile Gantsho

Mama tells me to suck my stomach in.
Her words force themselves in between us
as he moves his hand over my belly.
I can’t sleep,
trying to suck the bloated wine into somewhere hidden.
Trying to remember the last time I went to yoga or took a jog.
I wonder if that’s why mama was always high strung
—she never slept—
why she never listened to anything except old hymns
about Proverbs 31 women.

I wonder what she would think of me
walking around naked,
chopping onions,
pouring wine for a fifty-five year old man passing time in my bed.

The first time we met,
On waking up in my bed,
he told me I was too fat for him.
I wish I hadn’t cried so much.
I wish I could have sucked myself in
until I disappeared.


Vangi Gantsho is a poet and cultural activist. Truthful and, at times hard-hitting, she has participated in poetry events and festivals around the world, as well as in a number of poetry plays. As a producer, Vangi has put together shows such as Katz Cum out to Play, The State Theatre’s Night of the Poets, and Human4Human.  Her work has been published in literary publications including The Agenda (2004), Sabel (UK, 2010), Wits Press (2011), and Botsotso (2015). Most recently, Vangi released her début collection:  Undressing in front of the window (2015). She holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University currently known as Rhodes.

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