Nome Emeka Patrick

Loyal Witness

Moon-lit, the old gown glows inside the grove.

Outside, the birds drop

to the earth.

the garden awakes to its own green throb.

True, I was a witness

webbed in my own wobble.

In place of a tongue, a lit torch;

in place of a mouth, a dark room.

I walked toward the glint, the moon slouched

over the landscape like a grazing cow.

Tired, I sat under a tree thinking

it was skyscraper;

had a dream inside a dream

where an artist asks how long I have been in my body.

In place of words, a tiny waterfall

rumbling within my bones, spilling out.

Dusk took the shape of a dog,

raced itself toward the cliff

of the world.

True, I was a witness

wounded in my own mortal wonder.

On the field, a carpet of stars—

a boy my brother’s age scoops them,

hangs them back in the sky, asks me

if I’d love to learn the trade.

The question beats logic to a pulp.

I surrender my clarity to the wind,

trade my breath for its howl.

I shut the doors, stared at the walls

for a meaning—I broke the mirror,

knelt in the ruin mourning my clumsiness.

This is life, a myth we’re thrown into—

spun by time.

I clocked my heart out

of faith,

swiped it through fate—

I was the witness—to the self.

The dream replays itself; this time,

with the birds rising from the earth.

God, I couldn’t have guessed my own redemption—

couldn’t have dreamt the birds’ resurrection.

I was breathing inside the riddle—

what did I know of the gown or the grove,

what did I know of the tired self?

Nome Emeka Patrick is a Nigerian poet. His work has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Narrative magazine, AGNI, TriQuarterly, West Branch, Waxwing, Poet Lore, Beloit Poetry Journal, Black Warrior Review, A Long House, and elsewhere. A Best of the Net, Best New Poets, | and Pushcart prize nominee, he emerged third place in the Frontier Poetry Award for New Poets, 2020. His manuscript We Need New Moses. Or New Luther King was a finalist for the 2019 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. He writes from Providence, Rhode Island where he is currently an MFA candidate in Poetry at Brown University. Say ‘Hello!’ on Twitter & IG @nome__patrick