unlike a grieving mother,
the sky gathers stars to sing praises,
where birds supplicate with unsharded tasbi.
in salah, the opening of every muslim, every mother’s
prayer is al-fatihah— ash-shifa’, the cure.
can you see how a mother looks for comfort
in the arms of another mother, ummu al-kitaab.
ghayb: genesis of stillness lives in the scripture
of this ice; there are many bodies stuck in its pages.
last night, i drowned my 3 years old self into an abyss of memory:
playing houses with dolls, seeking homes, faking motherhood,
mothering a child that will never learn of her father.
if she asks, i won’t tell her my innocence
was poured into an ocean—blood-cleansing water;
a voyage of fog. i will tell her it was qadr, qaddara
when i say it with my tongue awake.
& at some point, when i can’t feel his hands
touching my thighs, i will believe it, too.
hear this: i vow to never take my daughter to the water.
i will make her bathe in her softness. like rain
sipping through the clouds; alive, wishing.
Zaynab Iliyasu Bobi
Zaynab Iliyasu Bobi, Frontier I, is a Nigerian-Hausa poet, digital artist, and photographer from Bobi. She is an undergraduate student of Medical Laboratory Science at Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto. She is the winner of the inaugural Akachi Chukwuemeka Prize for Literature, Gimba Suleiman Hassan Gimba ESQ Poetry Prize 2022, a Pushcart and Best of The Net Nominee with works in Strange Horizons, Fiyah Literary Magazine, CutBank Literary Journal, Native Skin, The Drift, Lucent Dreaming, The Deadlands, Agbowó, Omenana Magazine, and elsewhere. Tweet @ZainabBobi.