Back to Issue Twenty-Five.

it is in your self-interest to find a way to be very tender

—Jenny Holzer, “Truisms” (1983–1985)



it’s true doctor i am a firstborn a daughter
a fluvial child of loss         & yes of course

i love blame it is my government it is my god
my own hand ready to take fault when disaster ignites

(if i had only called then [    ] would still be alive)
(if i wasn’t so often gone the house would not

have been broken into) & at night i make ablution
& heave my leathered knees into a prayer

to ask the large & featureless creator why & why & why
& when i finish i fold the mat & rise

turn to my own face in the mirror & list
because    because    because


Safia Elhillo is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017). Sudanese by way of Washington, D.C., and a Cave Canem Fellow, she received an MFA in poetry at the New School. Safia received the 2015 Brunel International African Poetry Prize and the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. In addition to appearing in several journals and anthologies, her work has been translated into Arabic, Japanese, Estonian, Portuguese, and Greek. With Fatimah Asghar, she is co-editor of the anthology Halal If You Hear Me (Haymarket Books, 2019).

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