Nikita Bhardwaj



Every woman knows the beginning of the end
is avian, wings splayed across windshield in surrender.

You begin with a smile through feathered teeth,
hands heavy with blood, nails fisted in leather.

He makes the silent city his accomplice,
knuckles worn and splintered.

A distant orchestra hums something sad
as yellow flicker beam traces asphalt.

The streetlights won’t save you tonight.
You’ve been painted in silk, peacock

blues and greens, slipping into the 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.
Everyone thinks the end is silent, sanctified

in its suffocation. But you hear wings rustling in the gutter,
birdsong in the sewers beneath your feet.

The music is getting louder and
your hands are scaling the sky.





Nikita Bhardwaj is a high school senior from New Jersey. She is an Iowa Young Writers’ Studio student whose work has been recognized by NCTE, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and the Pulitzer Center. Her work is published or forthcoming in Parentheses Journal, the Eunoia Review, Oddball Magazine, and others. She enjoys long walks in beautiful places and playing volleyball.