Prayer to Recognize the Body

by Vandana Khanna

Winner of the 2013 Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize, judged by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

There must be a word for this
heart-growing, to explain these teeth,

stinging skin like a gift, tremble of
hair coaxed from sweat and scalp.

The next thing I covet: the third eye’s
velvet blink, the green pulse in my veins

of a forest I can’t make myself step out of.
And what of all the things remade, swabbed

free of salt? Because who can tell
the difference in the dark between

antlers and branches and bone, between
the thick-haired chest of an animal and you.

Vandana Khanna was born in New Delhi, India, and received her MFA from Indiana University. Her first collection, Train to Agra, won the Crab Orchard Review First Book Prize and her second collection, Afternoon Masala, won the 2013 Miller Williams Prize and is forthcoming from the University of Arkansas Press.

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