KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 3: Spring 2015
Poem: 163 words


by Ruth Awad
Undress, shed clothes like a nuisance,

and clouds of steam will bow around you, 
distort your nakedness into vapor.

In the bathtub, cradle your arm so you don’t spill a drop—
feel it all go liquid. It’s fitting

that you’d meet your mother on the other side of a needle.
Your mother, a pendant on the basement beams, 

the dust caught in sunlight behind her.
Don’t stay here where all the room is amber 

and your heart a fossil there.

And if you find your brother’s split wrists, know they aren’t the same 
red clay that winds to a ranch house, 

not the smear of lipstick on the neighbor girl you both kissed
behind the blackgum tree. Not his lips where the kiss still stung.

If nothing else, you have this:
the body and its steam, the mechanical

churn of blood, its resilient, 
unfathomable insistence

that you go on when you don’t want to,
when what you can’t hold

won’t hold you.

Ruth Awad
Issue 3, Spring 2015

is a poet, editor, and copywriter with a MFA in Creative Writing from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Republic, Southern Indiana Review, CALYX, Diode, Anti-, Rattle, The Missouri Review’s Poem of the Week, Vinyl Poetry, Epiphany, The Drunken Boat, Copper Nickel, RHINO, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She won the 2013 and 2012 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize, and the 2011 Copper Nickel Poetry Contest; and she was a finalist for the 2013 Ruth Lilly Fellowship.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Interview with Award-Winning Poet and Tattoo Artist, Ruth Awad by Geosi Gyasi in Geosi Reads: A World of Literary Pieces (14 October 2014)

In the Skin, an essay by Ruth Awad in Sweet: A Literary Confection (Issue 2.1, September 2009)

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