Bhabi’s Abecedarian by Abu Bakr Sadiq (Lucent Dreaming Issue 13)

an ayah in the qur’an says Allah has promised gardens of
bliss to all believers. tired, i light a broken
candlestick. its flame, a miniature sun, spreads to
douse the darkness in my room. tonight,
everyone i’ve lost returns to me in memory. i
follow their faces, trailing each into the
glazed edges of my thoughts. thinking of what could
happen next in the city, i grow cold, like a smile, trapped
inside a tear duct. in a mirror, i search my eyes for traces of
joy. i beg Allah to flatten out this
knoll of fear growing in my chest. for long, i’ve lived
like a firefly, arcing the shadow of a white sky. my
mouth, a broken boombox, replaying moments
nursed by women who’ve now gone missing. whose
only prayer was that the city learns when to
pull stakes like a river, hungering to
quench the thirst for
ruin in the mouths of its people.
sometimes, i hear the muezzin’s voice, shrilling
through a microphone. & my heart
unfolds like a beam, slipping out of a dark sky. in a
village, widowed
women gather to mourn those they’ve lost. carving
x-shapes above gravestones. in my room, i imagine my
younger self,
zigzagging through these graves, blind to what lies inside.

zodiacal light spills through my window shutters. even after
years of wading through white rivers of time, in search of
x-ray photographs of my flooded
wells of memories, i still feel like a
veiled silhouette, shuddering in the middle of an empty room.
under a white circle of light, drawn by a lamp, my hands
trace the city’s map with the faithfulness of a
smile, loosening itself on a teary face. outside, i watch
rain wrap itself around a homeless girl. i watch her lips
quiver like leaves brushed over by breeze. in the city
prayers are being offered to stifle the
obliteration of peace from the heart of our
new country as it crawls, blind-eyed, towards an oasis. in
my head, i ask Allah,
lifting cupped palms in the air, for a home
knotted in a windstorm of serenity; to make me a
jailbird, locked between the walls of His
immeasurable plains of mercy. close, i
hold a mirror to my face, hoping i find memories of our
glorious days, glinting behind the
filmy eyes of history. on the news, a woman
ends a report on abducted girls returning home
drained as bones emptied of marrows. on my bed, i
beneath my blanket
anxious as a shadow, waiting to be erased by light.

Abu Bakr Sadiq is the author of Leaked Footages (University of Nebraska Press, 2024), which won the 2023 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poetry. He is the winner of the 2022 IGNYTE award for Best Speculative Poetry, and a finalist for the Evaristo Prize for African Poetry, 2023. His work is nominated for the SFPA Rhysling Award, Pushcart Prize, and is published in Boston Review, The Fiddlehead, MIZNA, FIYAH, Palette Poetry, Uncanny Magazine, Augur Magazine, Fantasy Magazine, and elsewhere.
T: @bakronline | I: @bakronline

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