Lessons of Anatomy from a Former Pre-Med Student

2018 ODU-Poetry Society of Virginia-Academy of American Poets College Poetry Prize Undergraduate Honorable Mention


Briel Felton


Appendixes burst and

bones break, while

cells multiply around the clock; and so does

DNA. This complex strand, carrying history and heritage, grows inside of
+++++embryos; accented marks of hope.

Fibrils are like strands of hair in a ponytail, and

gall bladders are bundles of bile, like a messy bun.

Hands carry fingers which fit perfectly inside the

inner ear: keeping the peace, keeping you balanced.

Joints provide mediation between the bones.

Kidneys filter out waste and keep the things you need.

Legs are a blessing.


Nerve, because of it.

Ovaries remind me I can do the impossible, which makes my

pulse race behind my ears and reddens my collarbone. I can create life. I can destroy it. 

Quadriceps are strong like bamboo stalks, from the many times I’ve refused to bow. 

Ribs, a summary: bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh. I am God.

Spines sway like opinions, and

tendons tear like paper with first and 32nd drafts.

Uteruses contract and expand, making room for tenants and then evicting them. 

Ventricles run like faucets in December, so the pipes won’t freeze.

White blood cells are the guardians of biology, stopping the bad and keeping the good.

X chromosome, me.

Y chromosome, him. And lastly, the

zygomatic bone, the strongest bone: lifts smiles and bears the weight of frowns.

Return to ODU College Poetry Prize

Return to Fall 2018 Volume 10.1