Outside the wind tears

still-green leaves from their branches

pulling them up and off 

like a corn shucker

ripping husk from kernels.

The leaves, whisked into the wet,

chilled air,

enter a frenzied procession—

a mad swirl of twigs,

rotting bark, and

wrappers lifted from the gutter.

Through the window,

I watch this cruel, choreographed

dance of debris,

the tango of dead and not-dead

that spells the end of summer.

Watch fourth-year MD student, Phoebe Prioleau recite Totentanz—the poem that won her first-place in the 2016 William Carlos Williams Poetry Competition.

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Phoebe Prioleau is a fourth-year MD/MPH student at the Icahn School of Medicine.

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