I.

they will take everything you offer,

claw away if they sense there is more

until you are known, a bored routine.

so guard it deeply.

do not form it into words.


 

II. 

in my language, there is

pessimism, and there is survival.

I do not use it to speak, but

it is in my blood, like how to boil flypaper.


 

III.

it is a whispered knowledge,

passed down through matriarchs.

 

you refused to leave the house your hands built,

lime green walls and chickens long gone.

each time you kissed me, the hairs on your chin tickled me.

they became my feelers, imparting sensory information I'd never experienced

 

a temporary aphasia so

the knowing can sneak past language and

take residence in my spine, in

the curve of my back,

aching.


 

IV.

when you were four,

you lost your voice.

for a year you did not speak.

as he beat her, your sound left you.

 

when you pull a loose thread

and wrap it around your finger,

sometimes you cannot break it.

it grows until you can find a blade to cut.


 

V.

Hello, tesék?

Mondjad.

Your words withered the men who called.

I felt fear for them, and turned away from your intensity.

But I was never scared of you.

 

I reminded you of your sister.

She was kind and drew flowers for children.

But I want to growl like you,

leave ashes in my dust.


 

VI.

six of you with

heads down,

hands clasped,

as if

ashamed or remorseful.

I know better.

I see your pointed fingers,

defiant.

they know they

are next.