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A Song in the Mouth of a Ghost

by Saddiq Dzukogi

This is a time he won’t forget—You pouring your brother’s watercolor on the linen

he now holds like a map, a compass that shows

the place you’ve gone to, drawn in greasepaint,

alive, grown, in a schoolyard playing with other kids your age. You’re 12. In other images, you’re 16, 20, 31, married—

playing with your toes, like you did with his,

your children are fully-fledged, have children of their own. You’re plaiting the hair of one. A song in the mouth of a ghost,

a gust of wind from a skull below

his wave of remembrance and desire— a stone

carved out of a bigger stone, a grave-wall

opens into a room that misplaced your body,

moved from labyrinth to labyrinth, until the weight of your passing breaks a foothold. He remembers your mother

removing chaff from the unhusked rice,

you, playing on the millstone, ruining your napkin. The same he clenched

in his fist while glancing at your tomb.

This is how you pull him out

of the ground, giving him your hand,

pulling until he falls

into the temple where you’ve been waiting,

possessed with longing.


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