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Two Doves and a Lighter | A Poem by Echezonachukwu Nduka

We met at a bar in Birmingham on a night
When booze baptized you
And the world lost its shape:
New names
New existence
New world

There’s a world in every bottle of beer
And you had twelve bottles before my arrival.
Twelve worlds in one head is death in disguise.
Satan’s kingdom has no throne for drunken martyrs.

You extended your hand
And said your name, Burner, or
Something that sounded like the name of a cigarette:
High deaths
Low deaths
High births
Low births
Those words escaped your lips like your cigarette smokes
As what your name meant at that moment;
You were birth and death.
You were everywhere, but nowhere.

I smiled, nodded, but didn’t say my name
Nor shake hands with you.
My eyes were two doves, you said.
I nodded again and adjusted my bra.
You said my breasts were doves too.

The fourteenth stick exhausted your lighter’s gas
And I thought your cigarettes, lungs and liver
Would find some rest;
I blinked twice and smokes from the fifteenth
Stick left your lips in leaps and circles.
You were a lighter.
You are still a lighter.
No lighter can light two doves in flight.

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