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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR