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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