Natalie Wang

Winner of the Audre Lorde Award for Undergraduate Writing

like sidewalk chalk in a monsoon,
with a one-way dialysis machine hooked
to my jugular
I sink into erasure or
maybe my right to transparency.
like a primordial fish, I writhe
out of my own skin
to recline on this capillary bed
closing my eyes,
I am finally
an untroubled sunbather
on a midnight beach. 

I’m escaping his gaze, a squadron of
police lights
red white and blue
conducting a body cavity search
between my legs, he excavates
a body archive, where
the violence in my mitochondrial lineage is a cipher
to my epigenetic codebook
but everywhere I run,
these bones come with me. 

the narrative of my oppressors
and its claustrophobic opacity
has knit itself into the architecture
of my epithelium
every cell is a point of inflection,
a site of contestation
the dip and hollows of this soft flesh
are on a fight or flight trajectory. 

safety is an incantation half-whispered
on bruised knees.
so I conjure
tapestries of sensation, tactile memories
of bare cedar and sun-warmed rock
until all that’s left of me are stained
glass organs 

in a phantom breeze
and in time, I’ll only be
a faint dissonant chord
carried away by a soft exhale,

Natalie Wang is an undergraduate Hodson Trust Scholar at Johns Hopkins University studying Neuroscience and Medicine, Science, and the Humanities. Her research interests lie in narrative medicine,  postoperative delirium, and institutional ableism in healthcare. In her free time, she can be found daydreaming about the evergreen forests and alpine lakes of her childhood in the Pacific Northwest.