to cleave a cicada

Emmanuel Mgbabor

By Emmanuel Mgbabor

you pull each nylon wing as you would unhinge a star
from the sky’s dress. & for the first time, you watch a thing
discolour in your palm. & i love you for this bravery,
for the soft animal grazing beside your heart. i remember
the night we swam the field of elephant grass, my hand
clasped in yours— a tangle of bodies. a curtain of gentle
darkness stretching under our feet. how i feared the blades
of moonlight that were your hands would peel the little life
of this cicada. so i barged into the mouth of my faux dream.
so i watched the wilderness looming in your eyes like
birds on fire, how you undo each of its vibrant legs gleefully—
a deer lies dead in the wet grass, spiders climbing out of
its nostrils. its eyes leaking like raw jasmine. i do not
blame you for this undoing, because you love to watch
a thing die by your own hands. i only wish you had a heart
this pentatonic. less brittle. less rhythmic. & all i know is
your fingers as gold sickles for chewing into furs. you carry
the dead animal on your shoulders like a ribbon of rotting
flowers, through the night full of jupiters.

Emmanuel Mgbabor is a Nigerian poet and a member of the Frontiers Collective. His poems have been published or forthcoming in: The Shallow Tales Review, Olumo Review, Indigo Lit, Wrongdoing Magazine, Augment Review, My shuzia magazine, Wine Cellar Press, The Walled City Journal, The African Writers review, Evokelit, amongst others. He tweets @literati22