Summer in the Prairie
On Q Street, dehydrated, I walk into St. Thomas Aquinas church
to mollify my body from the summer heat. Dangling above a pulpit, Christ toils
on a crucifix. I loaf into a nearby pew, basking in air conditioning, a man
at the far end turns, as wood creaks against concrete. On stained glass windows,
wreathing their own music, Saints like serfs working on their lord’s estate,
perhaps psalms dropping from their mouths. When I visited Holmes Lake later
that evening, as my son chases after them, geese flap their wings into violet sky.
I close my eyes, and my deceased daughter is whispering her fragrance,
like dwarf daylilies boarded in a garden. A song is a dialogue between a soul
and its body. Above a harp holed in a bur oak, as fall, summer begins in leaves.
Lisp of wind holds the humid speech of weather. Home is hotter than this,
I whisper. With no reproach, my body is a clamor of thirsts. I stream my throat
with ice latte—At this time of year, back home, my throat will be a silo for the grainy
dust of harmattan. Earlier, in another park by a fountain, water rushes out
of a pipe-mouth encircling the cascade. A coffle of worries like shadows follow me
everywhere in this prairie, the memory of home hurries out as sighs. It’s exhausting
to hold home as a pendant. I wonder what thirst nostalgia can quench.
This is where I live now, away from the comfort of my blood. On my way
back from Starbucks, in a nearby quarry, a bird struggles to hold on to life, all alone,
rolling in bush as if trying to douse the ardor of pain stuck on its feathers,
a death-wound. I don’t know why it reminds me of my first day in America
when my wife observed cars parked close to sidewalks craving company
of people. Quiet and lonely, though it is not what dying feels like,
I imagine the bird, if it has a voice, will agree it is.
I remember a school
of birds. It may be
that I perceive beauty
folding myself into
nature, sifting through
the granularity of what
has no voice. No voice,
meaning; All the hieroglyphs
of earth, eludes us.
For hours, I pray close
to a nursery of cloves.
The shadow of anything
is the thing trying
to manifest another self:
Antidote to loneliness.
A friendship. An urge
to dwell in the periphery
Saddiq Dzukogi is a poet and Asst. professor of English at Mississippi State University. He is the author of Your Crib, My Qibla (University of Nebraska Press, 2021), winner of the 2021 Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry, and the 2022 Julie Suk Award. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships from the Nebraska Art Council, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Pen America, and Ebedi International Residency. His poetry is featured in various magazines including POETRY, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Poetry London, Guernica, Cincinnati Review, Gulf Coast, and Prairie Schooner. Saddiq lives and writes from Starkville, Mississippi.