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Chiwenite OnyekweluJune 30, 2022

(for Ibrahim)

Even birds know how beauty
begins at the
           tiny suture between two wings.

But they know nothing about
this fall. We
           slid our bodies down the dune,

the world crumpling into dust
beneath our
           skins. How wildly holy we were,

you and I, sightseeing beyond
this crucifix
           soft on my chest and the almond-

shapedtasbih drooping from yours.
Now, vastness
           shadows what remains on those

sidewalks each time we unlearned
the familiar route
           to school, sang “baami” to tease

the girls, or basined a stray sheep
           a farmland devoured by brushfire.

At fourteen, I recall my father
gripping a boy
           trying to teach him the origin

of names. AbrahamandIbrahim–
my father says,
           can’t you seethere are too many

war-torn countries between
both names?

           So, I mistake your glint. I mistake

my friend for a gun, and he
offers to smuggle
           me out of harm. And this is where

the fall begins, you and I
tumbling from all
           that height, an emptiness forming

right at the spot
where two shoulders once merged as one.

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