Given to Rust

Vievee Francis
Every time I open my mouth my teeth reveal
more than I mean to. I can’t stop tonguing them, my teeth.
Almost giddy to know they’re still there (my mother lost hers)
but I am embarrassed nonetheless that even they aren’t
pretty. Still, I did once like my voice, the way it moved
through the gap in my teeth like birdsong in the morning,
like the slow swirl of a creek at dusk. Just yesterday
a woman closed her eyes as I read aloud, and
said she wanted to sleep in the sound of it, my voice.
I can still sing some. Early cancer didn’t stop the compulsion
to sing but
there’s gravel now. An undercurrent
that also reveals me. Time and disaster. A heavy landslide
down the mountain. When you stopped speaking to me
what you really wanted was for me to stop speaking to you. To
stifle the sound of my voice. I know.
Didn’t want the quicksilver of it in your ear.
What does it mean
to silence another? It means I ruminate on the hit
of rain against the tin roof of childhood, how I could listen
all day until the water rusted its way in. And there I was
putting a pan over here and a pot over there to catch it.
 

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SONNET (silenced)

with her unearned admixable beauty
she sat up on the porch and asked for (f)light;
answerable only to poetry—
and love—to make it thru the greyblue night

blew smoke into words and even whiter ghosts
that could see what others in this broad dark
could not: she set to make of nothing most,
better: an everenlightening mark:

ghost gave her this: a piece of flint: that if
you rubbed the right way,
the lightlessness would come down, give up, lift—
and then there would be nothing left to say.

o sterilize the lyricism of
my sentence: make me plain again my love

(my ghost)
(and dumb)