Illustration by Pedro Gomes

Violence is a failure of communication.
The shoulder severed from the dream
of the socket. Most pain is useless
but it’s the body’s oldest song.
I want my own suffering to be intimate.
I do what I can to ease Abel’s wailing.
The goat’s final gesture to dethrone
her from the stone altar, to stir its might
against its master. The beast saw the light
but not the blade. Abel saw the resistance
but not the panic. I had never seen so much blood
moan from an animal’s throat. To unburden
the beast of its crimson gown, which dresses
now my sister’s sutana. Heaven’s blue flame
laps the goat up. Despite our best labor,
eventually Baba comes to collect. It’s either the animals
or us; the best of the harvest or the soil
will consume our true names. We have blood and dirt,
together they make God. And what does mercy look like
between humans? A sister reaching to lift a sister
from the ground. When I say a love that will end us,
I mean “mercy.” Remember, I offered you my hand once.
Push me away, if you like.

I.S. Jones

I.S. Jones is a queer American/Nigerian poet, essayist, and former music journalist. She is a Watering Hole Graduate Fellow and holds fellowships from Callaloo, the BOAAT Writers’ Retreat, and Brooklyn Poets. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in Guernica, Washington Square Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Rumpus, The Offing, and other publications. She received her MFA in poetry from UW–Madison, where she was the inaugural 2019–2020 Kemper K. Knapp University Fellowship recipient and the 2021–2022 Hoffman–Halls Emerging Artist Fellowship recipient. She is the director of the Watershed Reading Series with Arts + Literature Laboratory. Her chapbook Spells of My Name (2021) is out with Newfound.