Isn’t affection a knife we hold sweetly to our throats?
Isn’t the night a shovel that digs and turns
up every layer of the moon between our eyes?
You stab my belly and darkness bleeds fondly
out of me. The edges of our years poniarded
by memories, pillows in their blades of quarrels,
two-crossed room scissoring the history
we once sprouted out of here. I bottle our memory
in a gourd of distance. In the vine of the night,
I uncork a hundred strides out of my limbs
to find you. You’re stoppered by trees, by oceans,
by the bottlecap of a continent. You’re corneous
like the beak of a cloud pecking the ground like rain.
Thrust a sword of whispering down the lawn,
let my ears grip it by its hilt, let a word tilt
itself like a weapon, let its blade mow and tow
the ire of grasses we still grow. If you slate
your presence before dusk, the sun would strum
the edges on the schedules of your breath.
But I need you like a belch, like a belly slicing
its hill of hereness to a valley of want. I want
you like a scratch, rubbing my skin with the feather
-edge of your elbow. Shear the mangroves
of my fears from top to root, from twig to you,
knifing through the torso of the night into a body
bulging swimmingly out of dawn.
Samuel Ugbechie has works published or forthcoming in Ruminate Magazine, Palette Poetry, Nottingham Review, and elsewhere. His poetry collection, Monologue of Fire, won the Many Voices Project Prize from the New Rivers Press. It will be published in book form in 2021. He’s the winner of the 2020 Aurora Poetry Winter Contest, the 2016 Frederick Holland Poetry Collection. His works have been recognized in awards like the Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize, the Into the Void Poetry Prize, and others. He tweets @sugbechie.