I woke up to a frozen neighborhood. 

I wondered how it ever bloomed 

After it got so white and lonely. 

Where do the birds hide when it snowed?

I have many questions, but I can only ask my reflection

From the mirror, anytime I wash my face 

Before another salaat. 

Each time, this is what it means to be in khalwa.

You whisper names you know Allah bears. 

With each repetition, you asked what names only you want to call God

That no one may know. That’s how we learn to love.

I have a name for everyone I loved that is no more.

Baba didn’t know this garden is never free of weeds.

Where do the homeless sleep when it’s all cold?

They go back to God’s house, it is the only time they are allowed.

On other days, how come their families don’t come for them?

I don’t have answers to his many questions, I sighed instead 

And prayed that God would forever leave His doors open, 

Even when it’s not snowing, even when the grasses are back up.


Hussain Ahmed is a Nigerian, poet, and environmentalist. He received an MFA in poetry from the University of Mississippi. His poems are featured in AGNI, Poetry Magazine, Kenyon Review, A Public Space, and elsewhere. He is the author of Soliloquy with the Ghosts in Nile.

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