twenty one: NO TALKING allowed.
The only thing my grandmother knew about gold
was silence, but she kept her quiet like her favorite
shawl and made sure to give it to me
on cold nights. I grew up without role models
but I watched Ariel grow from a fish to a woman
and thought my larynx must have been connected
to my heart.
Maybe in the real world there is no Ursula
but there is still silence
and I spent my days with only internal monologues.
You know, I wanted to sing but my parents
wanted to see me without any sound effects.
I set fires in my wake, only to hear the fire alarm
go off like it was my favorite
song. God wanted me to be good
but the doctor was the first to hit me
for being alive. Even then, my mother
didn’t understand why children cry.
Earth is only weeping now, but her children
have been begging for retribution from the moment
we learned how to feel. Gaia, when your son saved you,
why were you not quick to save him? We have carried
mountains for you
and blended our pains into the dust of this country
until it was nothing more
but a computer screensaver.
My mother screams in her sleep but I am afraid
to whisper my love in her ear
because of what it would change. The weight of the world
would only increase with the weight of my voice
and maybe, Atlas couldn’t bear that.
I understand, I carry my own shit.
God wants you to pray, to sing,
but I do not know how to speak. They tell me to open
my mouth but after all these years
there are only the words I promised to eat away.
When we make love, I think about finally throwing it up
until you are covered in limericks, in rhyme,
in broken promises. I have half told stories
but I would tell them to you if you cared enough to listen.
Pillow talk is nothing but
we move our teeth around the words
we do not know how to say
and settle for simply mouthing against each other’s skin:
can you hear me now? can you hear me now? good.