When you call out the state of my knees in a school bus aisle,
Many, many years ago,
I spend the rest of my life diluting my self-worth
In crowds and open spaces.
I disappear into walls that I build.
I become oddly shaped knees.
I become hiding.
My esteem loses weight and fits oddly around my collar bones.
My body ceases to belong to me.
I come to belong to the non-existent,
Hard pressed, etch-o-sketch gazes
And side glances of strangers.
Lydia Nyachiro Kasese is a Tanzanian writer, poet, columnist and media director. In 2016, her first poetry chapbook, Paper Dolls, was published by the African Poetry Book Fund as part of their Tatu collection. In 2017, her short story, My Mother’s Project, appeared in the Caine Prize’s Anthology, The Goddess of Mtwara.