Prize Poetry


by a young woman, age 19

I’m learning how to walk again.
Not necessarily because I didn’t do it right.
More because of the fact that I never knew how to change my pace.
My steps were too light.
The opinions on acidic fingertips
Were what I was most concerned about.
And the confessions from bittersweet mouths.

I’m learning how to consume again,
Always ready with parted lips
Thoughtless and thirsty underneath
The belly of my rusted faucet
Forgetting how to stomach favor
Whenever it manages to come out.

I’m learning how to wait again,
Sitting tight with a furnace in my womb,
Responsibility soon to sprout nails and skim my stretched pink surface.

I’m learning how to bleed again.
With the absence of blood though.
Draining the suicide from the underside of my tongue not nearly as thick
as that copper scented crimson
but just as even of a flow.

I’m learning how to destruct without destroying.
Taking aim at my temples.
My index fingers loaded with accusations and forgotten splinters.
Sliding another insult into the flesh covered chamber.

I’m learning how to sleep again with a mind wide open.
Dreaming of insomnia.
Tracing lullabies on my bed sheets.

I’m learning how to kneel again.
Without ever really bending my knees.
Overthinking asking for forgiveness.
Then remembering that I forget what praying is.

I’m learning how to write again.
Turns out it hardly involves the movement of a pen.
The tap of a key, the swipe of a screen.
It’s just my head, my heart and me.
We can’t do much
But at least we know what we’ve managed to achieve.