—feathers intact, a butterfly flies out
of my nightmare. Monsters spiraling down
out of a sky of my own imagining,
possessed, achingly tortuous—I see
things, things no one else saw, hunting me down
as I try to catch my breath walking
a profound mark between fear and curiosity.
In the fossil record of my evening walk,
close to a quiet lake, my mind waffles up
and down the rolling grasslands of Nebraska.
Nature brings stability to mind. Beneath an effigy
of a tortoise, a seashell gathers the filth of time.
I imagine the sea nestling in a landlocked earth. Wherever I go, wilderness follows.
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.