Hussain Ahmed

Satellite Phone Call to Girls that were Once Sand Miners

Without having to lose their tongues to gravity
in a pond of brown water, I see them wash mounds of earth 

until they found Coltan. In the beginning was a pond,
shallow—but it would be enough for baptism.

their legs ankle-deep in mud, 
this is how they build a dam to keep their homes from burning, 

but end up breeding mosquitoes in the water.
our homes are rings of minerals,

we become what we walk upon. so everything ends where it begins, 
mama had been sick for months, 

but she complains the flowers in her body are dying without the sun.
anytime she sleeps with the lights on, she wakes up with smiles on her lips.

I am my mother with no flower to remediate the pains of losing her lovers to the war.
mama begged that I don’t dig deeper than my knee, 

she tells me stories about her childhood, 
when the only time she dug the ground was to bury kernelled seeds of sunflowers.


Satellite Phone Call to the Tourists in the Train Station

there are a thousand ways to make fire, because the sea is receding 
back into its skeleton—each day, it becomes farther from us.

how often do you dream of home when it begins to burn?
we supplicate to the sun to dry out our skin until it turns fireproof.

the branches of what grows on the train tracks when it rains
are curved arrowheads—shaped like cactuses. it colors are the remains

of the blood that stains the ground before the rains.
I was born few days before a giant fire in Kaduna, 

it is safe to say I was bred for falconry; we are always ready for flight.
in the direction of gabas, we journeyed until we find other tourists.

the train station is a purgatory of hope, we come here often
to tell ourselves of what we missed about our countries.

the cemetery and the train station have this in common; both have the incisions of the past
that refused our memory a flicker of solitude.

we left home in search of a name and became tourists of borders, 
no matter how unsafe home is, I won’t identify as an alien.


Hussain Ahmed is a Nigerian writer and environmentalist. His poems are featured or forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Poetry, The Cincinnati Review, Poet Lore, The Rumpus, and elsewhere.