Bryn Mawr College Poetry Prize, 2016

The Pulse

by Natalie Kawam

The glint, the fog, the swerve. The body,
Aligned inevitably with the metallic thud of her
Abdomen on the hood hollowed in itself.  Screams

In the wheels swallowed to an arduous
Silence. The exhaust, the brilliant shards,
The gasping moan like the first time

I touched a woman.  The flame melted down to the bud,
Wick and all, easing the room between the folds
Of a vanilla bean shell.  That moment was sickly

Sweet, her collar bone, her flush, the palpable
Anticipation, pounding between my temples, along
My jawline, misaligned with my pulse. The winter wine,

The trembling nightstand, the red shards,
The stained floor. I began to think in apocalyptic terms,
Marking time. My next door neighbor

Had a metal time keeper in his chest
Which beat him to death.  The ticker, the scalpel,
The nuke, the thing that saved him

Until it killed him. The woman beneath the car was
A doctor, splayed in the same way that hooker was
Branded on the corner of 49th street, scorned,

Flesh strewn and serenaded by sirens which never came
For me, or for her. The gore, the pleats,
The oil, the swell, the loss. The pulse.

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