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Next Exit

Ekoko Omadeke

Somewhere beyond the desert

of steeples, is a fingerprint of mold

on a white picket fence no one paints


over. Pollen stains caterpillar nests

like bacteria under a microscope,

each border made visible and ominous.


Sunlight pours through the morning

wash. Linens absorb dandelion, crocus,

rose—diligent students pinned


to a clothesline, as a toddler jumps

learning from the first grasshopper

it sees. This is what I think about


while wearing gloves in April. Jumping

like a toddler because there’s no better

way to express surprise. Of course,


I could be a mother. Of course,

the child is not mine, but my cousin’s

- a reminder to graduate from subway


to SUV, a gesture of adulting.

Yesterday, I opened a cab door

and was greeted with lavender.


It wasn’t a date. The cab had two kinds

of bamboo and behind the driver’s

head, flowers, a conical bowl with three


goldfish, leaning as I did into sharp

right turns. The thing to say now

is a picture is worth a thousand words.


Or to say, my phone has a glass eye,

and what I saw requires more words

than I know. The thing is I believe


in red nylons coiled like a blood clot

on the ground. You can never

be too quiet. What I mean is,


my grandparents are tucked under

hard sheets of grass. I watched

their children writhe like earthworms


at the news of their passing. I wanted

to be a famous choreographer, wanted

to take someone’s breath away


and never return. Whatever they did

next would be sublime romance.

But that has yet to happen. Only men


who block the sunset and wear

alligator shoes. Only carnal

disappointments and seeds spit


into nights freckled by lightning bugs.

Woodbridge, Brooklyn,

this carpetbagger still sings hymns


when nervous. I pick my nylons

off the floor, start to iron clothes

for work then stop. Sometimes,


I think my mind is a river.

And the moon is just a nipple poking

through dark tunics of sky.

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