Bababaa, just the way my daughter says it,
swirling out of her mouth like a bubble gum
balloon, around her loving lips— I am listening
with all ears climbing into the garden
in her eyes— a word, even in her death
outlives an inhalation.

I remember when our smiles go
into each other. She forces her way
into the heart of the world with a flower’s
tenderness. She takes a lantern and drops it
over the lea of my dark heart. She is a November rose,
smells as such—a scent that swells in my room
like light growing over my darkness.
I always come home to her eyes
bulging as a full moon, pure as zamzam spring.
I say: your eyes Baha, the moon
opened in darkness. I fondle the sound
of all the words she tries on her tongue,
most of the times the words are barely formed,
but I get her as if the sound is a language.

On the day of her only birthday, she dips
a finger in the cake before she slips
it into my mouth. On her face are the words:
I will care for you. Though she says it without her tongue,
her smile winded into my heart.
Now each time I smile, I hold her in my face,
the outcome of pollination, the flower on a reel,
a color that reflects even in the murkiest of places.
Now I walk the moor without any misgivings
that the dew on grasses is her little presence
and the way she encompasses the field
of my heart with poise—that every withered flower
finds its color again.

SADDIQ DZUKOGI is the author of Inside the Flower Room, selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for the APBF New Generation African Poets Chapbook Series. His recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Kenyon Review, Poetry Society of America, Oxford Review of Books, Gulf Coast, African American Review, Crab Orchard Review, Prairie Schooner, and Verse Daily. He has won fellowships from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Ebedi International Writers Residency.