(semifinalist for the 2022 Boston Review Annual Poetry Contest)

when he’s stopped by security guards for a strip search,
i move my eyes away from the screen. i face the magazine
sitting on my table. i turn the radio on. i hear a woman
ask for donations to pay off the ransom for her kidnapped
husband. i pour myself a glass of cow milk. i sweep pieces
off a chessboard with my palm. i turn the tv on. a presenter
interrupts a program to break the news of migrants
found dead on the shores of river niger. i look down
the streets through my window. i take my gaze away
when i see a man being chased by police officers. i make
excuses for my disinterest in the country’s ache. i pretend
not to notice when the cyborg kneels in front of a bomb
detector. i scroll through my twitter feed. outside my room,
i hear women returning from a wake keep telling an officer
on duty, they’re out to fulfill their promise of escorting
the dead with prayers. in the footage, i see the cyborg walk
into a room. his hands, flying imaginary planes in the air.
he stops in front of a painting of the white house
hanging on a wall. an american woman asks what he
came looking for at the embassy. what he knows of
the american history. how long he plans to stay on
the american soil. why he’s decided to leave the country
at a time it needs people to stay alive. does he understand
what it means to move out of a country that gave him
a home. the cyborg walks out of the room, fogged as a
blind butterfly, flying headfirst into a whirlwind of terror.