He shifted his body from the fragment of the world,
where all the atoms of your departure are sustained—
your grave, his agony, the polyethylene bag
brimming with breast milk.
He can’t break away from the things that remind him you are gone.
The napkin they used to wipe your face after you ate,
he tucked into his bag
after your funeral. He stretches, swallowing all the screams
in the earth, with limbs still devoted to memory.
The night is solid on his skin—his stomach
growls in a broken voice.
Trapped in a loop he can bear no more,
the brink, where the world becomes custodial—with barbwires
that rend its nooks into small rooms he cannot enter.
So long in the dark, pupils adjust to a new gloom,
and his hands become eyes—leading him
through the walls to a doorknob.
It’s been a month since you left.
He wishes he could step into your mother’s prayer
and swap it with the harvest of his silence.
The dancer walks between the dead and the living
while the courtyard stills in a seethe of bees, a chimera.
He’s dizzy from this funeral dance of revival.
Against a foul smell, he kneads his bones
back into childhood. Grandmother says children possess
eyes that see everything, even the empty spaces under the dome
of a haunted masjid. They reveal the deeper understanding of loneliness.
If he goes on and says something from the flawless abundance of God,
birds will come to the window wheedling grief out of his eyes.
Saddiq Dzukogi was born in Minna, Nigeria. He is the author of Your Crib, My Qibla (University of Nebraska Press, 2021) and the chapbook, Inside the Flower Room a selection of New Generation African Poets Chapbook series. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Kenyon Review, World Literature Today, Oxford Poetry, Oxford Review of Books, Southeast Review, and others. He is currently a PhD student in English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he received the Vreeland Prize for Poetry.