It’s summer & all day we did what girls do:
spoil our appetite with sweet bread we steal

& hide in the folds of our dresses.
We are picking the lock on our mother’s bedroom

to dive for treasure. We take what we want:
gold earrings          rouge         red lipstick

her sewing needles & nail lacquer.
Momma calls for us to do chores, but we run

laughing headlong into the new world
governed by cicadas.

You reach for my hand & we become one erratic body:
two-headed, four-legged, barefoot galloping

toward the emerald field. We feast on a banquet
& I paint your nails (blush for you; dark green for myself).

When you finish eating, I ask if you’re ready,
trap you between my legs,

remove from its wrapping a sewing needle,
pull taut the waxy flesh of your earlobe.

Breathe for me, I say & you do.
Then the needle punctures flesh.

I open you & we stay this way for a while: your hands
squeezing my thigh, crimson drip of your earlobe.

Again, you say & I pierce the other,
wipe you on my dress. The stars you now carry

in your ears. Before the trek back home, we bury
the lipstick & rouge & nail lacquer in a cedar box.

I never washed your blood off my dress,
the vermillion wave that every night I hold

close to my nose & inhale.


Cover Art by Samantha Park

I.S. Jones

I. S. Jones is a queer American Nigerian poet and music journalist. She is a Graduate Fellow with The Watering Hole and holds fellowships from Callaloo, BOAAT Writer’s Retreat, and Brooklyn Poets. I. S. hosts a month-long workshop every April called The Singing Bullet. I. S. coedited The Young African Poets Anthology: The Fire That Is Dreamed Of (Agbowó, 2020) and served as the inaugural nonfiction guest editor for Lolwe. She is a Book Editor with Indolent Books, Editor at 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, freelances for Complex, Earmilk, NBC News THINK, and elsewhere. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in Guernica, Washington Square Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Rumpus, The Offing, Shade Literary Arts and elsewhere. Her work was chosen by Khadijah Queen as a finalist for the 2020 Sublingua Prize for Poetry. She is an MFA candidate in Poetry at UW–Madison as well as the Inaugural 2019–2020 Kemper K. Knapp University Fellowship recipient.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *