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I had always wanted to grow children here
in the cornfields, where it would be easy
to teach them about God and they’d believe
because how could you see the vast terrain
and not believe that a mind had painted it
before speaking these things into being?
The history around God would not
be hard to believe as it would be
in the city where the sole intent
was to murder God, where if they could, they would
run a sickle through his throat in his sleep
as if he were the reason for their suffering.

I had thought that if there were ever
a fire, we would easily tame it,
or if we went to the top of the hill
we would call on God and he would listen
as he had done to our ancestors
and ancestors before them. I had brought
my family here, hoping not to leave,
having valorized the mere idea
of living every day mundanely.
I had wanted them to see the forest
like a chapel, that they would stare into
its infinite black at night and imagine,
in the same way that I imagined,
while the hyenas prowled the bushes, laughing,
that he must be lurking there in the trees.



Okwudili Nebeolisa’s poems have appeared in Threepenny Review, Sewanee Review, and Cincinnati Review. A finalist for the Granum Foundation Fellowship Prize, he is a student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he won the Prairie Lights John Leggett Fiction Prize.



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