If a new life begins after each blackout,
all the ghosts in this house would have to wake
from their slumbers. the last man
steps out of the Makabarta
and it seems like learning jazz again.
each time
we walk into the boneyard
with stereos muffled in our stomachs.
the path of dust
in between the graves        lead
to another freshly dug hole, a space for a new beginning.
cairns erected
over new heaps of brown soil,
only few had epitaphs,        I assume
none of their lovers found a tongue        to fill the cabinets
with a song         that’ll round off the edges of their emptiness.
This, like the night           when thunder
unbuttoned the sky, to give space for the wandering shadows,
I feel my bones reverse to be tendons again.
on the grave marker, I see names that sound too close to mine
and dates as close           as the day before.
a piece of her bedsheet was wrapped around her marker
as if to remind us all
that           only the living should crave warmth,
because the sky has never been closer
no matter how high we jump.
Here, the gates are opened for goats
to wander and graze upon all that grows for staying long beneath the ground.

I see taro leaves           sprouting
from the plain ground, waiting to be dug.
the last man steps out of the Makabarta,
this time,          he looks behind –
a bird perched on the new marker.
how long
until another will be planted
How long
does any part of the graveyard      remain plain
until it becomes a new country?

Hussain Ahmed

Hussain Ahmed is a Nigerian writer and environmentalist. His poems are featured or forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, The Cincinnati, The Journal, Crab Creek Review and elsewhere.