Poetry / Saddiq Dzukogi
:: Inner Songs ::
When I pray, I place my palms one onto the other, on my chest, as if to say, it is yours, God in a voice deep as a fissure— where the things that go in echo and create circles like a stone stirring the face of a river, my prayer is a planetary body, siphons my energy and gives nothing in return. What light can stir me through this hailstorm of darkness. What orchestrates my body to trust its scraped knees instead of the feet. Grief means me, means to keep my body swallowed— paring down my bones to an idea that cannot flower. It is a virus strafing my immune system like rock salt rubbed at my skin, where I have bruises, until the bruises are stripped into wounds even my shadows can feel. Barefoot, at the place where earth ate my daughter’s placenta, seeking to empty my sadness, the sadness of a body, a body like a house built on buried bones. I am singing to the ravens and my sorrow spills on the neighbor’s wife. She is pregnant. Each morning when we meet, I’d see my sadness in her eyes. I bridle at a beaming light so much what I see is just a dark so dark it holds my eyes for a few seconds after I turn away. I am fond of your memory, it’s the only room I walk into and find you on a mulberry carpet waiting with sealed lips, a face, a body, and silence.
:: Still-Life ::
Sometimes memory is more than a knife cutting moments from my past into sizes that fit the present. At the edge of what doesn’t seem like paradise, a myrtle had risen past a skyline. I still call you Myrtle, abandoning my grief as I complete your heaven with a fantasy. I call the shrub your name until it starts to look like you. Sometimes I am angry: I know what you’ve done with my hair inside a wine glass. We hold onto anything that reminds us of what we’ve lost. As I wake from a dream, lost are the pearlescent eyes that could see into tomorrow, could see the myrtle still stretching its body to reach the horizon. Memories are a still-life caught in snippets, framed in a glass, like my hair. They drag shared moments to my eyes, where your light touches me and the images re-form. There we are all together: mother, my brothers, Farid and Rayhan, playing hide and seek behind your back.
From the writer
:: Account ::
These are poems born out of grief and the celebration of our beloved daughter Baha, whom we lost 21 days after her first birthday. In writing these poems I feel like I am holding her in my hands. She is alive as grief, alive as memory, alive as song.
Saddiq Dzukogi is the author of Inside the Flower Room, selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for the APBF New Generation African Poets Chapbook Series. His recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Kenyon Review, Poetry Society of America, Gulf Coast, African American Review, Crab Orchard Review, Prairie Schooner, and Verse Daily. He has won fellowships from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Ebedi International Writers Residency.