By Othuke Umukoro

Efiko Mag - Image for Othuke Umukoro Poem



In the grand canyon of things, have I been calling
to dry sprigs, descending into sediment like

infauna? Late at night making love, peignoir
& a glaciated window, you touched me everywhere

but here. What is warmth if it comes from under
neath the wooden toolshed of your life, sledgehammer

to my peachy desires? The wind bristles with rye
grass. & across the cistern of memory, the rib

cage knows what lives but doesn’t grow. Moths against head
lights. Silence, too, can be rinsed even though it is skin

less. The air. The air. Always the air for
the siloed day opening in a field. In the rear

view mirror, only the flat & wobbly plank sign that reads
hitchhikers may be escaping inmates.



The sun slants
on a brambleberry.
It is that season. Creeping

phlox. Everything
too close to touch.

two common
loons at the edge of the lake drink
their way into each other.

Is this arrival, the knowledge
that alone does
not always mean abandoned?

The man I met on my way here
decelerates, nods, then is forced
forward by the thing he leashes.

Behind, in the plum grove
flushed with last night’s rain,
waxwings rise

& disappear.
Othuke, where language fails,
may a hand sprout for you. E

Othuke Umukoro won the 2021 Brunel International African Poetry Prize. He is an MFA candidate at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.