top of page


CAS for Database

Nikita Bhardwaj

Princeton, New Jersey, USA

Princeton Day School


Every woman knows the beginning of the end

is avian, wings splayed across windshield in surrender.

He makes the silent city his accomplice

as yellow flicker beam traces asphalt.

Begin with a smile through feathered teeth,

heavy your hands with blood, fist leather until your nails crack.

The streetlights won’t save you tonight.

You’ve been painted in silk, peacock

blues and greens, slipping into dead night.

This sidewalk is slick with grease and something

untamable; language turns the corner and finds

no home. To speak is to kill.

It is winter by the time you muster a

parable, something like please

something like fly, something like away.

People think the end is silent, stale,

an old woman’s dying breath. Listen: to the wings

rustling in the gutter, hushed birdsong in the sewers

beneath your feet. Look: you and him,

sweat matted to your foreheads

as the vultures purge this city of sin

and the feast begins.


In this haunting poem filled with memories of flight, cities, and the weaponizing of the voice, the speaker explores the female body as it navigates the difficult yet tender world they exist in — as it witnesses what it means to grow, what it means to be in a space. Growing pains have never ached more beautifully.

Nikita Bhardwaj is a high school senior from Princeton, New Jersey. She enjoys long walks and playing volleyball.


bottom of page