Vinamratha Rao, Class of 2028
fresh red streaks in the snow-white bank
seeping through fabric stretched across her back,
scored for each round after round
in this mouth of hallways eating a tail of rooms.
i stagger behind close enough to see fingernails
with crescents of rust
each time her hand steadies along
the rasping walls of this place.
as our feet shamble dunes of sinking wet sand
towards quenching some fatal thirst,
i have only seen her back
but i know my mouth is just like hers—
clinging drought which now seems more of friend
the permanent children of the ward reach out
from nests of sick sheets and shackle lines of tubing,
to pass their fingers through hazy feathers
shorn to the quick and oozing smoke
i am still young enough to see
but old enough to deny.
at the end of this turn,
she will lie down in the mess
with arms twisted around in the dark,
her fingers scrabbling for ghosts of wings.