Elee Kraljii Gardiner

Concepción, Chile   When they take her from the street she shouts her full name so someone might record her disappearance. They shut her up. Her articles are measured and weighed. For months they guard her, abbreviate her verbs. They keep her in the imperative. She is strip-searched, shocked, revived. Sprayed down with rhetoric. They push their words between the bars of her cell. When she refuses they introduce words into her clothing. They remove the eyelets from her shoes, replace them with their nouns. They tie her off with phrases. Shear syllables from her hair and send the clippings to her family. They manacle her with clauses. One folds and inserts his words under her nails in weekly sessions. If she escapes into the past perfect they bring her back with cold water. When she whispers to herself they turn the microphones up and analyze the output. They open a vein to supplement her vocabulary. They take turns riffling her pages, smoke while they wait to funnel words inside her. They crack her spine with their conjugations. Within her a letter unfolds its papery limbs, its ink blot eyes enlarging. She becomes a skilled translator, will resignify the language of violence ensuring her child not recognize the jailers and speak only a mother tongue.
Elee Kraljii Gardiner directs Thursdays Writing Collective and is coeditor with John Asfour of V6A: Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2012).

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