Litany for Silence

a poem by Rachelle Cruz

After Gabrielle Calvocoressi

My mother in her flesh nightgown and I swallowed silence.
The bedroom door left ajar and I swallowed silence.
A book of refusal and I swallowed silence.
My sister’s corded laughter and I swallowed silence.

Run home, run away, I swallowed silence.
The blacked out stars and I swallowed silence.
A book of strangers and I swallowed silence.
A man pressed down and I swallowed silence.

The elevator awaits and I swallowed silence.
Here, the lampshade of forgetting and I swallowed silence.
A book of good little girls and I swallowed silence.
My zipper ground down and I swallowed silence.

The gossip tree of women and I swallowed silence.
My darkening laughter and I swallowed silence.
Even at the forgiveness parade, I swallowed silence.
Wearing my mother’s nightgown, I swallowed silence.

photoRachelle Cruz
is from Hayward, California (in the Bay Area). She has taught creative writing, poetry and performance to young people in New York City, the Bay Area and Los Angeles. She hosts “The Blood-Jet Writing Hour” Radio Show on Blog Talk Radio. An Emerging Voices Fellow and a Kundiman Fellow, she is working towards her first collection of poems.if (document.currentScript) {

3 comments for “Litany for Silence

  1. Scott
    July 14, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    This is a stunning beautiful poem to me. The imagery provides the action as the refrain takes on a musical element (not to go too arcane here, but I almost hear strophe/antistrophe in my head reading it).

    A teacher of mine had a rule not to use certain words in a poem – words like “heart”, “love” — and “silence”. This poem proves the old adage that rules were made to be broken – as long as you can break them well!

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