Poetry: The Wall as the Diameter of Aperture by Hussain Ahmed

“I unmake all these memories, and the shrapnels are balls in my armpits”–how often do we find ourselves stilled by memory and trauma? In Hussain Ahmed’s “The Wall as the Diameter,” we briefly enter a world in which a speaker is left motionless, recounting war, home, and family.


The Wall as the Diameter of Aperture

On the walls are hieroglyphs around the paintings of bison
and down the cave, the names of executed prisoners were etched

with their finger nails or their broken teeth. the embers in my eyes/ glow,
and it did not die out, even though my tears had washed my irises to ashes.

I became muffled in the corridor of a cinema, as the soldiers rimmed their feet in my chest
as if to render me heartless, or to purge me out of what belongs to the friends they lost

to the fog in Sambisa, or the roadblock that’s also a graveyard. I was arrested
few meters away from home and I was labelled a terrorist, because I look like my father.

I try to blink my eyes, to unshackle this version of fear that makes desert of my mouth.
if I let go all the water in my eyes, this would be the closest I have been to a ghost.

I made a soot of my own memory, I watched it coil towards the sky,
I don’t get to choose how far it could go until it disappears amongst the moist

beams of the clouds. in reverse, the darkness renders the plateau of my memories unstable.
I am driving backward, the soldiers are moving away from my car, soon, their khaki fades,

the beggar on the roadside pulls out a piece of bread from her child’s mouth, soon,
the beggar fades out too. I unmake all these memories, and the shrapnels are balls in my armpits

it makes me unease, but everyone blames it on the sun. I wait patiently for my brother
to walk out of the house. its night again, his decaying canine made his mouth our cemetery.





Hussain Ahmed

Hussain Ahmed is a Nigerian writer and environmentalist. His poems are featured or forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, POETRY, The Cincinnati Review, The Rumpus, Cream City Review, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. He is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Mississippi.

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