Saddiq Dzukogi



It is to be hoped that a tree
will let its leaves rot
into earth as nourishment;

I am searching
for the name of my daughter,
a piece of ribbon

I found hanging on the door-hedge—
I stare long until I hear
her voice rising

from the knotted edges of the silk.               
And I enter into a conversation
like a race-horse released into fire.

The ribbon stuffed
with all her words, frothing
like a burning piece
of a butterfly's wing, greeted
with water baubles—I mean it
in contrast of the disrobing
silence of quenching.
The redwood flower un-wilts
into a new fragrance, a smell
like the moon common
to every night that visits,
clatters along all the crannies

of an unforgettable half-side
of a dark day—widening
into newer edges,

the willow that falls
into the ears of God, a thrush
housing its body

inside its own wet wings.
Do you not see, child?
Once your songs endure

inside my bones,
they will consume the loneliness,
yours and mine.      




How can I descend a staircase
I am yet to climb? The choral
scotches my throat. I come to sing, lying
on the cold floor, a fragment of my sadness,
where my mother washes my daughter's inert body.
My mouth is where pallbearers drop
condolences like a toffee. I smell the floor
to sense her scent. I hone my anguish
into a sharp nail and press it
hard against my neck. The day
my child died, I lay in the cordial slice
of an afternoon below the dome of the house
humming over an empty crib. In the moment
my mother wraps her in a burial sheet, I want
to die, so I can drag my child back
into her mother's arms. It's a respite
to even think I could achieve such a Godly act.
In my daughter's absence, I'm surprised that
her light glows more. I stuff her napkin into my back
pocket. I can't sit when grandmother
offers me chair. I arrive late to the interment.
Washed down to my toes with the news. I miss
my child like she has been dead
for a thousand years. The feeling ripples her face
against my mind, and my mind feels like a mind
of darkness. I walk through a bridge
beyond myself, within my small beginnings,
with the countless realms of sadness
between me and the light she keeps inside my heart.




These are poems born out of grief and the celebration of my beloved daughter Baha, who I lost 21 days after her first birthday. I have nothing else to say, but that I have lost Baha to death, but in writing these poems I feel like I am holding her in my hands. She is alive as my grief, alive as memory, alive as a song whose words release her into the star that can not be made into dust.