Saddiq Dzukogi

Chibi

In the long grass he sat watching the picture
of his daughter, tallied all the memories evoked
of her, saying his name until a light came on
in his eyes. The memories played like a playlist
of all his favorite songs. Tinged her face
with the stem of a mango tree he planted
close to where he buried her chibi. As he sulked
in that climate of heartache,
mosquitoes congregate and mistake his afro
for a marshland. Light shines brightest
in dark places, he wanted to see like a bat
what was before him, a child long buried.
Wanted to hear her cry, like the time
grandmother heated a piece
out of a broken clay pot, pressed it on her navel
for seven days until the string fell.
When his mother said through memories,
he can have his daughter back. He conjured more memories
and bade her to ride each like a horse,
until she arrives. Crickets sang on top of their voices,
sang and sang, until theirs was a voice,
inside his veins. Memory is a shell where time is ductile,
where it draws him in, until the present and past
became tactile in his body.

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.
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