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Africans never presume to count another's children,

 so we don't know how many they had, the family

 ours moved in with, each sidestepping the other.

 Mostly. Avoidance was respect: night was their time,

 the musical clan tapdancing ceiling boards to pipes,

 and winching squeaks from plumbing, chorus stars

 above, cosmic dust, pointilist, in sifted asbestos below.

 You would go into their kitchen at night for water

 and see their conspiracy scattering, snooker balls

 struck by light, darting stragglers huffing for the pocket

 hole. Easy, having nibbled their doors under ours,

 thoroughfare through the house and gourmet gougings

 of bread, each mousehole ornate. Losing their shyness,

 we occasionally met at dusk, their whiskers tightrope

 lances measuring the abyss of air on either side,

 sifting our intention, teaching the resonance of mice:

 while the world continues to build ours at the edge,

 to wrench our microcosm from potential space.

Co-exist

Tolu Oloruntoba


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