Thursday, 8 December 2022

Secret Language

by Mary McCarthy

When my sister and I talk
it goes fast and low
as if crouching to avoid
incoming fire.
Our stories start and stutter
full of holes that don’t need words
because we already know
what they must be:
punch lines of old jokes
like worn keys to doorways
that let us slip out
from under the assault,
words we can wear
like gas masks filtering
heat and poisons from the air,
our sentences like tattered cloth,
like chains that turn and knot,
and cling like climbing ivy
on a wall we always knew
would be there, daring us to climb.
We talk in an abbreviated code
each pause resonant with tone
like the air around a swinging bell
remembering the same vibrations,
the wild excitement and defiance
past the threat of punishment,
laughter choking through our tears
forever unrepentant, winners
on a broken field
still trying to teach
our voices how to rise
and sing our way to freedom.

* * * * *

Mary McCarthy is a retired Registered Nurse who has always been a writer. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Ekphrastic World, edited by Lorette Luzajic, The Plague Papers, edited by Robbi Nester, and recent issues of Third Wednesday, Earth’s Daughters, Verse Virtual and Gyroscope.

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