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The language of tides, girlhood, and broken limbs

By Mel

"I'm sorry, I don't know where to begin" you say, bony hands knocking into

each other, scrambling in the dark for the words.

"How do I tell you they aren't any? They haven't been invented yet. "

then use made up ones.

Your fist unfurls, fingers finding mine the way

A sea swallows itself and spills onto shore the way

Your words now do.

You remember being six and not knowing

'no' was a word allowed to you till it thrashed free

From your throat, like wings of a bird beneath a closed fist.

You remember periwinkle petals under the jacarandas and

blood on the porch. Dawn stretched limbs and dusk drained ones.

Mango slices under the sun and light rays- blades of your mother's anger.

You're ten now, and your teacher asks you where it hurts, you're

crying now, and a purple-blue hand finds your heart saying here, here, here.

"where does it hurt?" she repeats.

You remember radio static & bicycle rides. Learning that night meant

safe and please is a prayer. That being seen and not heard meant

blood under blade becomes blood under asphalt.

That you will turn twelve and find loneliness

Among friends. Thirteen and the shrapnel becomes teeth,

Fourteen and it sinks into your skin. Sixteen and you learn you'll

Never have a name for it. Eighteen and you will laugh about it among siblings.

Laughing because no one else will, no one else can.

Eighteen and you're still learning the

Language your body speaks. Sinews sewn

Back with rage and bones with grief. That if you

it speak it now, teeth and light will tear you apart.

Tell me anyway

And your hands try to find the words

Fingers like tides to sea curling ever so slightly towards

Your heart saying here, here , here.


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