but what if she burst

so, hand over heart
make sure she is still there

still telling the same story in the hospital
about how grandma was choking and choking on that pill
but she got it down with just a little bit of applesauce

still hair set in rollers at age 82
that rainbow-colored house dress
with the one quarter in the pocket

still hard-boiled egg cooking on the stove for grandpa
who wears half a nightie and nothing else
he always just got a haircut
grandma wants him to stay
her man to show off to the neighbors through the window

still a song caught in her pancreas
of the men of her youth
that caused blisters, cuts and culture

until the creator creased her throat
he placed then erased pulse
so she curled her way up into the air
her mouth
a prayer without words

her lungs
dried plums
then just a stem.

AMALIE KWASSMAN is originally from Brooklyn, New York. She is a current MFA candidate in the Creative Writing & Environment program at Iowa State University and poetry editor of Flyway. She was awarded a tuition grant to study at the Juniper Summer Writing Institute. Her work has been published in Booth, Hyperallergic, The Ilanot Review, Punchnel’s, and elsewhere. Most recently, her poem was a finalist in The Comstock Review‘s Muriel Craft Bailey Poetry Prize.