Everything was dying when the telephone came alive.
the first ring was from a woman
one of the eleven that had called before the sun
spreads on detached limps & licks off the blood.
until the rays are boxed in the gloves of maghrib
I pray for night not to come, but it came crawling.
I feel nauseated by the shouts of dying men and the silence that ensued.
their fading voices pounced on the prayers, we dare not say aloud
you are alive. I feel the balm spreads down my throat
she said her prayers are answered but I feel lost,
I am as dead as the city itself. the minarets are empty
the bells jingled but everything that speaks our language
could be a bait to trap our tongues for the wolves.
I got another call from my dead grandmother,
I recognized her voice above the clatters on her end.
I have been on this corridor for days, I don’t know if it’s a dream
or not. can you hear me? she said
I remain silent, afraid to ask her what I had kept in my mouth for too long.
did I start this war & can I stop it?
it seems the full moon has raised everything back to life,
there are eelgrasses sprouting from the floorboard
water trickles down and soon forms a pond.
I see my reflection for the first time in seven months,
this house has come alive with songs that began with sneezes.
what is my name and why am I here alone?
the phone went back dead when all else were coming back alive.
Hussain Ahmed is a Nigerian writer and environmentalist. His poems are featured or forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, The Cincinnati Review, The Journal, Magma and elsewhere.