Invisible Love: Still Life at Twelve in the Morning

The idea behind this series was to curate stories and pieces that reclaim the love that isn’t always visible. The love that makes us question what defines heartbreak, what defines a connection, how we learn and unlearn, how we teach and feel love. These questions are brought to the surface through this collection of visual works, poetry and text created by women who’ve beautifully visualized all the love you can’t visibilize.

Still Life at Twelve in the Morning
by Oyin Olalekan

I close my eyes to keep your hand pressed against my cheek, 
to count the callouses between your fingers.

I open my eyes and I am bigger than my room, 
I have been to all the places on my walls.

I am learning to trust myself again 
to kiss the face of desire open-mouthed and not be sorry. Which is to say, 
there is a man who lives on Calle Goya

He kisses me open-mouthed 
and I am not sorry.

I close my eyes and it is siesta. Someone is making an omelet, 
its snap and sizzle skips into my room. We make my bed a ship without anchor
and the lady across the street wails her notes to buoy us up.

At midnight, the birds flash golden in the light of the cathedral.
When it rains the streets run with color,
the ground mirrors the sky, and I find myself splashing through stars–
this is how love found me tender-tongue and bared teeth for that which I adore.

In Zahara, your eyes were a patient river buffing my jagged edges smooth, 
I gathered what was left of me tossed it into the ocean 
and scrubbed my face clean.

This is how I marked my way home: 
by the Torero who keeps his three loves encased in his chest, 
and the porter who pats my cheek like his own,
and the old man who stands on the corner of Esperanza de Triana and promises to marry me.

I close my eyes and it is 6 am. All the alarms are ringing. 
Guapa, you say, Que tanto suerte tienes.  How lucky you are. 
I count your breaths, match your rise to my fall,
count the number of men I have smiled for. 
But you have kind eyes and soft hands
and a quick tongue to fill your mouth with my name.

I remember the linen of your fingers against my ribs, 
you say, Guapa let me paint you.

I say, listen, the man downstairs sings for us 
his voice so rich our silence is lush with sound.

I open my eyes; I have been stranded in your sweater for days.

Now, when I say your name it is only the mouth of midnight that catches my breath.


Sketch by Ellie VanBerkel

Oyin Olalekan is a Poet, Screenwriter, and Filmmaker. Her solo exhibition Speaking (in Tongues) was followed by an appearance of her work in the Sawubona Project. She is a Winter Tangerine Writing fellow, and was selected as an Emerging Director by the Doc Institute’s New Visions Program. Her forthcoming short film, Kitchen Talks will be her directorial debut. She holds a Masters Degree in Media Production from Ryerson University and is always reaching for the next story to tell.