Once, I saw two women bowed over the open bonnet of their hatchback

like it was some god receiving its daily evening ritual of obeisance.

They call to me, I shout back across the heated asphalt:

I don’t know the first thing about cars.

They exchange bewildered looks and whisper to each other.

I tighten my sneakers and continue trotting.

The June sun is a toppled basket of kumquat fruits spilling everywhere.

When I rounded the bend, the car was still smoking.

I wonder if those women still wonder

what kind of man doesn’t know the first thing about cars.

The thing about first knowledge is that you don’t know it and you suffer for it.

They say do not look a gift horse in the mouth,

but the thing about a gift horse is that you should pry its maw open

because there might be men within it,

brutes bearing sharpened blades in the belly of a benign beast.

I know a person who throws back his head and crosses his legs

as his cigarette and the nightfall creeping in on elbows takes him back to the war.

Somewhere, someone nestles their desire in the warmness of their palms,

waiting for their lover to sashay in through the mirror,

daffodils in their breast pocket, asking with a nonchalance only the dead know:

Darling, why is there grass on the porch?

I left my red windbreaker right here, where is it?

The first thing about death is that the living don’t know the first thing about it.

What you know is of dying.

Suppose you boast of whatever knowledge you have of dying,

what do you say when asked:

are there daffodils in the fields of the dead?

Onyekachi Iloh (University of Nigeria, Nsukka) is a writer, poet and visual artist exploring photography as a means of documentation, and the re-examination of sight. He has been a finalist for the Frontier Award for New Poets and The Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize. He is a winner of the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize and the Quarterly West Prize in Poetry. His work has appeared in The Bombay Literary Magazine, Off The Coast, Welter, Palette Poetry, Mudroom Mag and elsewhere. When he isn’t playing pretend guitar or dancing before mirrors, he reads poetry or mourns his country.