You must love exactly how they want
to be loved, even if awful, even if with abandon.
Your shadow has no window for light to enter.
And nostalgia is the cousin of grief. Remember
a road is a snake that holds you beyond its teeth,
a two headed snake that can swallow you
from either end. By a swing you see a man
pull out a cigarette, his mouth makes him his own
clouds that the air is quick to swallow. Think,
in its fogy hands, what else can take hold of us.
In a tree a bird flies out of another bird’s nest,
you wonder why things not ours appeals to us the most.
why do you keep your lips sealed?
Words are creatures with teeth
wolfing inside your guts. Life is kneaded with
pain, grief and love. Know this.
Saddiq Dzukogi is the author of Your Crib, My Qibla (University of Nebraska Press, 2021), winner of the Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry, co-winner of the Julie Suk award, and finalist of the Nigeria Prize for Literature. His poems can be found or forthcoming in spaces such as Poetry Magazine, Ploughshares, Guernica, Poetry London, Ninth Letter, and The Georgia Review. He is an Assistant Professor of English and affiliate faculty of African American Studies at Mississippi State University. He lives in Starkville, Mississippi.