what will you sing if hunger abides in your blood? there is a name for the animal grief makes of us—a body falls to the earth like hammered nails & all that remains is a dirt mound melting in the rain. for days now, i stand in Rann—a small town painted with blood & constant fear. there is enough fractured in this land without pretending that home is an open prison. no words can beauty this: i mean to say there are words you write when you score a name with a blade. eulogy of a body in prayer: what god turns his cheeks to see his sweetest lambs slaughtered before they can grow up into sheep? a boy is dying. a girl is dying. a hundred students & a hundred healthcare workers are dying. what can i give to be that season, that sacred space contained in every child’s voice asking where then is safe? O Borno, what century fell at your door? i took to my hands & knees when you climbed out from a garlic clove & kissed the moon on its cheek. it was only months when it felt like i had been grieving your abduction forever. i keep meaning to stop. to wait for you, night after night as my little sister does when i’m gone—i mean to say i make a list of things i know you’ll come back for. i will say come back, come back for the children you left & the dog. come back, i will say to rock the newborn babies to sleep & console their depressed teenage mothers. come back for your brother & the nights full of cold bowls of oat brewed with cardamom & cloves.
last night i had a dream where i was planted at the rupture of a root where the land became your wilting petals. shouldn't we mourn for Hauwa Liman? i speak of a certain rooftop not far from collapse. i mark in charcoals & sense the new branches of a cypress within me waiting to tear the gauze. i look into them & see a stigma of stars falling across dark fields. there is a raven at the door: each new day i show my garnet arms & our hurts become full-blown.