Poetry Contest: The Unsilencing

by Katie Hogan

Part I
In the foggy torrent of Hurricane Floyd,
I am born with curiosity that tumbles behind blue eyes.
I terrify my parents with my own thunder.

Part II
I am too young to remember when
I first learn that I am better seen and not heard.

Part III
I am hollow and illicit,
Salt stains my cheeks.
I crack the backbone of Vogue covers and diet pills,
Suck the marrow of silent torture,
Learn the secrets of shrinking.
Barbie was an instruction manual before she was an invitation.
There is nothing colloquial about this kind of crumbling.

Part IV
I pray to skeletons before I close my eyes,
Skip the litany of alarm setting and teeth brushing,
Trade in the thrum of thick precocity and pleat my periphery into an improper fraction.
I am less than unity and I cannot be creased into even sections.
I sever the space between being heard and being seen,
Shove myself into the margin.

Part V
It was never about smallness,
It was about shrinking the guilt–
Sacrificing the space I never had a right to.
I learned I was better seen and not heard,
And then I hid behind my silence.

Part VI
I calculate the damage of my downfall,
And I do not care.
I cleave myself from emotion,
Cling to apathy,
And curl up behind my collarbone.
It easier here.

Part VII
I cannot decide if I want to die.
I would rather live in the empty of indecisiveness,
But they tell me that without fuel, expiration is inevitable.
Apparently you cannot evaporate the ocean without dehydrating the entire planet.
This all started because I could not stand to be seen and not heard.
I do not like being told what to do.
This life is my mess.
I dictate the destruction.

Part IX
I am the weapon and the antidote.
I learn the etymology of my inexorable deprivation,
Find antonyms for divestiture,
Translate pain into purpose.
I peel my voice from passivity,
And plaster it to the paper.
I shout so loudly my pen punches holes between my words.
I keep writing when the ink dries.

Part X
I am far more untamed than I remember,
Half silk and half smoke,
No longer the abused, nor the abuser.
I am the elegy of my smaller self.
I find myself in places I did not exist before.


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