A Kind of Burden (Saddiq Dzukogi)

Silence       like emptiness,     is reciprocal
                 when you speak against a wall,

                                  is a kind of burden.  

I seized my daughter’s napkin from a cupboard’s silence

to fill my nose
                  with her memory,

a hummingbird whistles
down my throat. After

                                                   a hard swallow,
my daughter’s name      news’es

into a world inside a pigeon’s abdomen, cracks
the margins that constrict

                 a universe of pain
inside my body     the reverie

of an ousted world. I scour
the intensity of absence; the dissolving     

capsule in my palm is a
                 lithe refrain       packed

with daughter’s words
losing their opinions of multiverse—

smoke that soars
into the mouth of a sky

where it has no voice


Saddiq Dzukogi is Nigerian poet and 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 Kenyon Review, Oxford Review of Books, Poetry Society of America, Gulf Coast, African American Review, Crab Orchard Review, Prairie SchoonerVerse Daily. He has won fellowships from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Ebedi International Writers Residency.