In a lagoon of silence that is his room,
as sunlight rushed in, his face emerges from the formless
details of the dark. His voice sings to my ears.
How eager I am to furrow into that symphony.
At hundred years plus, his knees have seen it all,
Nigerian Civil War, the crumbling value of naira, military juntas,
yet, at dawn, he calls out every one of us, flesh of his flesh
committing us to the virtues of heaven.
I turn towards his stack of perfumes. It’s a storm
of fragrances, paradise creased into half finger-sized bottles.
Once, standing over a dead butterfly, his fragrance
woke it up, he said. I think of many of his jests
and miss him more. Now a butterfly himself,
I did not learn his craft of mixing scents.
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.