By Hussain Ahmed
I am a sun, rising over a field of hays
but once, I was a rose flower
blooming amidst leaves of faded greens.
For centuries, the petals held encrypted
messages, until the mouth formed enough
alphabets for love.
Before there was hay, there was field.
I was once a pollen grain,
dispersed outside the window – of
the woman I would let sing in my ears,
as the rain drums the windowpanes.
The genesis to everything beautiful, is light –
or rain or both. And whatever
hints of love, hints of death.
There’s no vocabulary in the army – for grief, or death.
Each door you exit, leads to another parade ground.
With each lightening on the face of the sky, you remember
the matching tattoos you drew on each other’s back.
The flash of repeating memories you crave every morning,
I hope it keeps you alive until the next gun fight.
Every death is expected, but you loam the pains in your mouth
and sing of the days when the gyration was enough
for you and the battalion. You remember ___________,
excused from the war front, and like you, he envisaged rapture
The roaring of the waters on the edge of Lagos reminds him of Maiduguri,
the thatch where you both kept watch and sang until it stopped raining.
The ocean’s wave kept him alive until the next gun fight.
He returned before the arc on his stomach healed.
The field is where the love is, he made it to the pavilion
where you both sang on top of your voices, because you must not close your eyes,
not in prayers, not to dream of anywhere outside the circle.
After the ambush you still hear whispers
of his songs, that alone keeps you too alive until the next gun fight.
There is a feather in us all,
but mine often
reroutes me back home.
The day after a flood, our room sounds emptier
than it was before we slept.
I wondered what we lost to the brown water.
Like the glittering lips of a knife that turns rusty
in a pouch that is to keep it safe,
our shadows became translucent on the blue wall.
This is how I imagine the bottom of the sea,
but layered with stones
or crab bones –
where an octopus hides, waiting
for preys to wander into its territory. E
Hussain Ahmed holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Mississippi and is a PhD student at the University of Cincinnati. He is a winner of the 2022 Orison Poetry Prize and the author of Soliloquy with the Ghosts in Nile (Black Ocean Press, 2022).