The parade ground is a field of cocoyam leaves.
There’s a tuber beneath your boots, but you must stand
Until the sky is lighted with the names of everyone before you
Made into an umbrella to hide a bag of salt from drizzle.
The similar scars made a family of strangers.
In many years, you may never meet except on a runway
Where you only stare into the halogen lamps, and match on.
There is a demise of a soldier that you may read on your way to the kitchen
Or on the radio after a music break. It will break you
For now, you are a branch of a dead figment, smothering in the dark.
Henceforth, all the dead lives in you.
You will live in someone who would see your face in a photo album
And tell how you rescued a family of rabbits on the battleground.
You will live in the body of a stranger, who watched how you fed the rabbit
And her seven kits slices of mangoes you ripened in powdered charcoal.
Hussain Ahmed is Nigerian, poet, and environmentalist. He holds a master’s degree in Ecology and Environmental Control from Obafemi Awolowo University. His poems are featured or forthcoming from AGNI, Poetry Magazine, The Kenyon Review, Transition Magazine and elsewhere. He is a 2021 Semi-finalist Cave Canem Poetry Prize, 2022 Finalist for the University of Wisconsin Press’s Brittingham Prize and Felix Pollak Prize poetry competition, and several others. He is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Mississippi and the author of chapbook “Harp in a Fireplace” (Newfound, 2021) and debut collection Soliloquy with the Ghosts in Nile (Black Ocean, 2022).