Photo credit: Marisol Casben. Source: Unsplash.

Let us not even dream of speaking, no

For the stars are luminous phones

In the palms of night.

─ Rolli


I am helpless to this golden twinkling at sundown:

this architecture of clouds,

dyed into a line of yellow neon­ness;

to how the sky bends into a circumference around the departing sun

as if to herald her homecoming by swallowing;

to how soon my chest would be stuffed with the weight

of longing, would heave and whistle and crackle

into the night, like a man singeing in a burnt house,

thrown into the rude silence

that accompanies the aftermath of burning.

But longing is the mother of all silences and

I’m sprawled out unto the porch,

surrounded by endless distances.


Nearby, a random trespasser has set fire to the hills

and two dozen weaverbirds, feather­locked,

come circumventing downhill to safety, but I could pick out

the lyrics of their birdsong,

which is theirs but also mine.

I could engage this familiar chirping away,

this chronicle of common loss.


I can sense the advancing wind, before the night is far spent.

Displaced too, by the tidal sequences of the sea,

as it blows up plumes of debris from the dead fires

buried with the hills beyond, and more thrushes—

survivors of the night in this journey of countless distances.

I can sense the strong cologne of an imaginary lover;

another boy, soft-­eyed, gazing with me into the distant nights,

as in a guided telepathy.

I tell you, there are few things more profound

than the savage algorithms of twin heartbeats in a city of stars

ready to meet this pure thirst for warmth in the ringing cold,

a hymn our throats yearn to sing:

Here we are, lost in your palms, night.

Here we are, lost in the palms of night.

Lost in the palms of night.




Chisom Okafor is a Nigerian poet, who has worked as a nutritionist, dietitian, bartender, accountant, and night auditor. He was shortlisted for The Brittle Paper Award for Poetry in 2018 and for the Gerald Kraak Prize in 2019.