you are holding him across a heart, a life, a sea. 
trying to tell him that you love him 
but it is sounding a lot like ruin.

your favourite pictures of you both exist only 
on a plane recognized by you,
and perhaps memory.
it’s true those are usually the best images;
hanging on the walls of your making.

it's also true they are often a foreboding to an end. 

               in one frame, you are trying to
               throw yourself into the sea.
               it’s beautiful and clear and it knows your name.
               no one has ever called you so tenderly.

but when you leap in another frame,
it is into him you leap
and he is holding you like a word.
you are looking past him, the sea has disappeared.
his love, a vast forgiveness.


          in another picture, 
          you have shut yourself in silence 
          and are groping for yourself.

         he is sitting by the door, waiting for you.

in another, 
you are knotted over in bed, alone. 
and your heart is searing and sweating
because you love him

how does a body move?

i am constantly fascinated by the weight 
a body can hold for the heart. 
its willingness and kindness —
how it denses, and falls into a single  giant mound.
so that all the weight of the heart is evenly distributed 
throughout its length.

i have been waiting for my body 
to release itself from a breath
for days.
it squirms and huffs but never exhales.
everyday i reach a hand inside; 
everyday i grasp at nothing.

i have loved and lost
and now i wish to move on,
but my body, sad, little, heavy thing, 
still mourns
still hopes
still won’t breathe. 

About the Author:

Hauwa Shaffii Nuhu is a poet and essayist from Nigeria with work published in Ake Review, Popula, Jalada Africa, Lolwe, After the Pause journal, The Bitter Oleander and elsewhere. She’s a 2018 writer-in-residence at the Ebedi Writers Residency. Her chapbook of poetry has been selected by the African Poetry Book Fund, in collaboration with Akashic Books, for the 2021 New Generation African Poets chapbook box set.