Illustration: Somnath Bhatt.

Listen:

“And when I go towards you it is with my whole life”—Rainer Maria Rilke

As a deer longs for streams of water, so my heart longs for You,
how the red, wet animal in my chest throbs Your name.

I gather a garland of the day’s eyes, sew a crown of branch and nettle,
bleach clean the antlers of a fallow.

Before ceremony, the church pews sing a language of hunger.
Every beast I’ve slain has come to bear witness,

fill each seat with their mangled bodies. I’m so close to madness,
Father, stretch my hands, guide me towards Your light.

You who knows and whose vast knowing undoes me—
the rush of my blood is You.

The faithful pacing of my lungs is You.
Forfeit my eyes in lace and I’ll still feel You.

Come find me, Baba, in the church of wheat and sunlight.
Before You, I am disciple, bride, guardian of Your perfect name.

My body is merely a tool of execution. Take me as yours,
and I will follow You. O, how possible I feel in Your light.

I.S. Jones

I.S. Jones is a queer American / Nigerian poet, essayist, and former music journalist. She is a Graduate Fellow with The Watering Hole and holds fellowships from Callaloo, BOAAT Writer’s 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 elsewhere. She received her MFA in Poetry at UW–Madison where she was the inaugural 2019–2020 Kemper K. Knapp University Fellowship and is the 2021-2022 Hoffman Hall Emerging Artist Fellowship recipient. She is the Director of the Watershed Reading Series with Art + Literature Laboratory. Her chapbook Spells of My Name (2021) is out with Newfound.