Hurt & Healing, 3rd Place Winner: Saturday by Sara Elkamel
It’s a joy to share this poem by Sara Elkamel, third place winner of our 2023 Hurt & Healing Prize. Join us in celebrating this piece, and if you haven’t already, you can see other winning poems published here.
I am looking for a screwdriver. I need
to do something about the water; it has been cold
for weeks. The skin is growing red between
my breasts. Below them, two foul moons.
Sometimes I forget about music for moons.
I cube meat and keep it frozen for years.
Some nights I dream of a replica of my mother,
only younger, bleating from behind a wall of glass.
I have enough energy to wash my whites
but not enough to hang them in the sun.
I have lost daytime again. And everything
is wet; my voice is wet, and my memory—where my mother
washed all our clothes; where we did not need
to know the birds we ate once ran on blood.
It is Saturday again. Driving me back
to the house with no water, my mother
tells me she is afraid she got it all wrong.
I thought time endless, but now see how it runs,
slips through your fingers like a dream.
I could have spent it with you.
What could I have said to her then?
It was like that moment after an accident,
when despite the fissured windshields,
and the blood, no one has died—but the crows
come cawing anyway. For twenty years
something has cawed anyway.
It has made life long, like a dream
when you’re in it.
Sara Elkamel is a poet, journalist, and translator living between Cairo and NYC. She holds an MA in arts journalism from Columbia University and an MFA in poetry from New York University. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Magazine, The Yale Review, Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, and in the anthology Best New Poets (2020 & 2022), among publications. Elkamel was named the winner of the Redivider's 2021 Blurred Genre Contest and the Tinderbox's 2022 Brett Elizabeth Jenkins Poetry Prize. She is the author of the chapbook Field of No Justice (African Poetry Book Fund & Akashic Books, 2021).