In Silence (poetry)

In silence

I have a belly full of stones that are words
heavy down in my gut
two dozen or more “I’m sorry” pebbles
a broken fragment of “that could have been me”
a handful of weighty “yes” and “no” and “I am too”
jostled next to jagged edges of “I wish”
though acid and time inside
have removed the rest
(but I remember that falling star).

It isn’t a curse –
if I were cursed I’d speak
and no one would listen,
or the stones would come out
click clacking past my teeth, maybe chipping a few
wet and raw into the world
whenever I spoke.

I know how curses work.
Curses change words
to jewels, to frogs, or maybe insects
like butterflies lifting into the air on lettered wings
or crickets hop-scurrying across the carpet
hoping to get away.
No, I’m not cursed. I just swallow my words
unable to find any that matter
that change things
that can move
unable to express depth with shallow syllables
and so, down in the deep they harden.

Morbidly, I imagine that when I die
they will cut me open
and find a quarry
a love letter to the world
in simple sedimentary sentiments,
igneous ideas cooled now in the darkness inside,
and metamorphic thoughts pressed together over time
into the hardened hollow places
I carry in the softness of self.
Until then
the words sit in my stomach
waiting to see light
and I cannot speak
even when I want to
even when I want to say
(something, anything, what what what)
so very, very much.

I’m not dead, though
and I do not intend to lie down
anytime soon
so, in lieu of inadequate mineral conversation
which I can’t quite manage to produce
I move my hands
making something soft
in bright and shifting colors
a rainbow to wrap around the shoulders of a friend
a gift
and I remind myself
when the world seems cruel and dangerous
that I am armored inside with rock
that change can be geologic and slow
but it happens
and that there are many, many ways to speak

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