by Alya Albert

I have been thinking 
about silence 
I understand the mouth
and how it seems 
separate from the body 
because it is the vessel 
of language 
of thought made sound
the prison of speech
the shallow grave 
or a stillbirth
so close
and yet
I understand
there are things 
we don’t say
things we can’t 
for reasons that multiply
out of themselves
reasons known by words 
such as shame or honor 
or oppression or fear 
or defiance or death 
or infancy or love 
or tracheal damage 
or trauma or hate 
oral history 
is a brave history
what do you do 
to not feel the 
of the 
of the 
of the homelessness
how do you leave 
again and again
how do you leave 
without leaving
how do you make 
a movement forward 
when you are displaced 
in space
conjugating tenses
how do you move 
in the face of 
I understand
what it means to have a mother
with a life before
a history separate
but the source of your own
a mother who did not speak 
could not speak
a mother who has no say
in if she leaves or not
I understand
what it means 
to not
and to stand 
mouth open
and hear
no sound
I understand 
so well
especially the silence of this one room
this one space
the silence I try to solve 
with speaking
and sometimes fucking
the silence that exists before
and after us
because of us
despite us 
the silence that gave birth to us
that is killing us
in this room
in this space 
between us
I want to say so many sentences 
but they all begin with I
I apologize.
I am the only thing I really know.