Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

The Unheard “No”


*Written July 5, 2008*

she cried “No!” but her voice was not loud enough.
it was quieted by her past,
her first boyfriends who taught her how to kiss
and sneak into quiet staircases to explore her newfound womanhood.
her voice was clogged up by times she spoke and was told to shut up,
to quiet down because her opinion didn’t matter.
she was stifled by yesterday, drowned out by
the noise of moans of pleasure that came from relationships of pain.
she had learned to get used to her yells being whispers,
only to be heard by her and her alone.
she tried to turn her voice into subliminal messages,
tried to use facial expressions to convey what she really meant,
hoped that her body language would translate into
the denial, affirmation, confirmation or discomfort that she faced in daily life.
she thought that maybe she could get through life without speaking,
just holding onto the images of what she wanted,
afraid to verbalize them for fear that they would be
crushed, stomped upon, or thrown out in the garbage.
quiet was kind of okay after a while–
it made her seem mysterious, like a special box that needed to be opened.
but on that night when she said “No” because her box,
which was meant to be a precious gift, was being ripped apart,
she was not heard.
she tried to push past the raspiness in her throat
from unspoken thoughts and opinions
but nothing came out.
as she felt her canal widened with foreign flesh,
she wished that she had taken those opportunities in her past
to use her voice.
as sweat rolled down her forehead and stung her eyes
and trickled down the curves of her spine,
she wished that she had a glass of truth
to quench her dry throat so controlled by lies
and glossed over, acceptable responses.
she wished she could go back and take back each and every instance where
she shrugged her shoulders
or said “Yes” or
“That’s OK” or
“It’s not that serious” or
“I’ll be alright” or
“I forgive you”
but the hour had passed her, escaped her life.
so here she was flying out of her own body,
searching the universe for the “No” that she never spoke that was just
seconds, moments, minutes, hours, days, grades, hesitations away,
hoping that the next time she used the word,
unlike this time,
it wouldn’t be too late.

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One response

  1. Wow, this devastates my heart to read. It is certainly well written. The lines like the glass of truth and searching the universe for the no add a poetic beauty to the ugliness of the situation being conveyed.

    July 9, 2008 at 6:45 am

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