To Speak

(N.B: ‘learnt’ is one valid British English spelling, though ‘learned’ is more commonly used. I needed a sharp edge in the word that ‘t’ gives. )

I have learnt to speak;

 

I have learnt to speak in silence when my voice was gone,

in mimes, memes and gesticulations with one arm,

 

I have learnt to speak in rhythms when my limbs were

free,

I have learnt to speak within the forms my body allows me,

I learnt to speak again,

again,

again,

again,

past the point of voicelessness, immobility and pain,

 

I learnt to speak on stage, on tv interviews,

I learnt to speak in poetry and its lover, prose,

I learnt to speak of mystery,

of histories,

of laws,

I learnt to speak of policies,

injustices,

just cause,

 

I learnt to speak in stories

And let them sew accord,

 

I’ve lost my voice, then been united with my words,

I’ve spoken into silences when no one heard,

 

I learnt to speak when language was jumbled up inside,

I learnt to speak; to orate; to argue; to confide;

 

if and when

my voice is gone

as voices one day do,

when they speak of all I’ve done

I hope they’ll say this too;

I learnt to speak.

 

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch

 

 

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