Back to Issue Seven.

The Language of Daughters



builds a daughter’s house: beams of I like fingers accuse
eachother in circular rooms, circuited with silent vowels
that string themselves together endlessly.
Some words
are composed entirely of silence, and these will trickle out
of a daughter’s mouth as she sleeps.
Of course, certain gradients
of daughterbreath won’t translate: fear of fathers, fevers, regret.

There are sixty-seven terms for red, forty-two for leaving,
but none for sorry.
Unwatched, a daughter’s verbs switch tense,
a life unbecoming as was swallows am swallows will.
With age
the language falls away like scrub from a daughter’s brain, but when
it is heard again, her dumb tongue burns with voiceless consonants:

tk tk of fingernails on drywall, sh sh of lace on tile, st st of silver
trembling in its drawer. Her mind
is blanched in a bowl of light—
her lips part, her body stutters, she looses a ribbon of time.
splinters with words unlearned, and hidden roofs collapse inside,
leaving only interjection—O
a daughter’s life is spent
sifting the wreckage of meaning heaped between her teeth.

Rochelle Hurt is the author of a collection of poetry, The Rusted City (White Pine, 2014). She lives in Chapel Hill, NC, where she teaches for the Carrboro Arts Center and the Loft Literary Center online. She is the recipient of awards from Crab Orchard Review, Arts & Letters and Hunger Mountain, and her work can be found in recent issues of The Kenyon Review Online, The Cincinnati Review, and Meridian.