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“She Begins to Speak” + “Seismic” by Saddiq Dzukogi

“She Begins to Speak” + “Seismic” by Saddiq Dzukogi

I am shimmering behind a wall,
like a flame in a lantern. Hold me 

down in your body. Everything 
in my life is fragrance; 

myrtle, chrysanthemum, freesia. 
I want to watch as you plant daffodils 

where it aches the most. Turn your heart into 
a garden. The place of my rebirth 

attracts joy like petals attract insects. 
Everything in my life is a flower, 

I live inside the smell like a moth
twirling towards the farthest bulb——

Don’t despair, it reflects on me. 
I am anchored to your feelings. 

Inside your body, it spikes when you despair.  
I think of all of you in the household,

and quiet down like a seed in an ovule, 
quiet like a ghost armed 

with knowledge of death 
for the first time, I quiet down 

like wall flowers growing on 
the creepers leaning on me, growing 

over me. I keep my shape, 
the shape of the dead, that is how 

I’m allowed to stay now. I am here but 
almost not, that is how ghosts exist, 

almost a figment. There is nothing sad, 
do not despair in the universe 

as a miniscule, for I am here, 
more than a memory, when you remember 
me, I become whole for a moment, 

before cringing back into this form, 
absorbed inside a frame, absolve yourself 

of the guilt, it is the only way for me 
to live. I hear you crave my voice 

in your dreams, the thing is, I do not 
know how I sound, and I’m scared 

of speaking in a way that you won’t know 
it’s me. But know that your voice is in 

my body, you echo in my bones, 
quite loudly, the one dead feels alive. 

Speaking to you, I ask too much 
from behind this wall. 

I want to manifest in ways that convince you 
I’m watching the world as it wrinkles, alongside your skin,

I cannot stop, it is my life-source to watch you, 
my brother, and mother, it’s a joy splattered 

over my face like sunlight. My right hand 
a torch pointed towards any darkness 

that confronts you. When the daffodils grow, 
my rebirth is complete. Your grief is empty, 

when your pillow dries- put it out there 
let sunlight claim its wetness. 

I know what you feel, that sadness 
keeps me physical in your body, 

but you have to let go, it’s a monster 
bullying me here— I have my mother’s hand, 

go on and hold her. What else can open 
your eyes? My eyes are still 

there, and whatever you saw in them 
you can see inside my mother’s. 

There is grief inside, as well, 
but it’s only by looking that you can 

get it out. They won’t detonate, 
not if you stare, taking your eyes off them 

is like removing the pins. Do not despair, 
my body is stardust across the night sky, 

and rays across the day’s. Do not let your body 
continue as a village, sacked and burned. 



In the market-square he leans against the tower 
as the world passes by. A hole, 
the extent of two palms fisted together
in his chest. Often, he prays to perish into silence,
the silence of nights removed from a prayer’s
ointment, to lay the wound bare. 
Each time he turns his face towards the east
and presses his forehead to the ground,
he sees his daughter beside God, in the eyes of
people, is in the eyes of the world, as a witness
to the sprouting of meadows. See how the earth proceeds,
nourishes the ground after a drought. When he faces the moon
and says he’s the pitch, the earth mends back
its plates that shift from quake to quake. 

Saddiq Dzukogi is a Nigerian poet living in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he is a PhD student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Saddiq is 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, Poetry Society of America, Gulf Coast, African American Review, Crab Orchard Review, Prairie Schooner, and Verse Daily. ‘

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