2020 Barrett Winner
3rd Place Zahra Lahiji
i marvel at pain, how it endures
how this brittle flesh of mine takes and takes
the only sign of its tired state a rough scar
i marvel that these ears have not yet begun to bleed
despite the ugly words they have heard
and this heart, it beats still, though my mind screams for it to
how these breaths
i only have the strength rallied in a
p a u s e,
my body knows and fights against me.
i grow weaker by day as my resolve fades
these thoughts though light as mist, weigh
my body recognizes this fight for survival.
as i take my blade to it, it resists. even self-inflicted
wounds will heal but leave scars behind, an accusation.
the child of my past screams through time,
questioning, raging, asking
how did you survive?
and on the darkest
nights alone in an empty
room, looking up into the abyss
i whisper back
i don’t know.