Images or Shadows of Silent Things
120. Tongue. God hath fixed to it a natural bridle and fenced it in with a strong wall, as it were, even the double row of teeth, to intimate how it ought to be restrained and strongly guarded.
  1. The mouth resembles the structure of a box, the lips its flaps. When the box is folded together or taped shut, its contents are more easily toted and sheltered. So it is with a voicebox: that which cannot escape for its being held closed is that which is most closely protected.
  2. Zippers, as well, lock their teeth in order to protect what is carried within: the small of a back in a dress is thus no longer naked and ashamed.
  3. For we see that the mouths of nature collect in tranquility and transmit in violence. The mouth of water is where, for instance, a larger body collects its stream, and in doing so, preserves the everpresence of the same amount of liquid, come what rain may. In contradistinction, the mouth of a volcano is what spews forth flagrant and fatal molten rock—what chars to the level of a burn in the third degree.
  4. To give the third degree is to subject a prisoner (of body or mind) to torture (of body and mind) to elicit or extract (as a tooth is extracted from the mouth) a confession.
  5. The jaw, when wired shut as through maxillomandibular fixation, is thus healed. Words become the fractures of our ability to understand one another.
  6. Or mouths are the face's gaping wounds, and no wounds are healed if held open.
  7. As the posts of a picket fence are identical (as the white posts of teeth), so are some minds identical in their wonders of cognition until cleaved by the horrors of articulation. Imagine the conjoined twins, one connected by her mouth to her sister's ear. What kinds of whisperings would be necessary at point-blank?
  8. Why are some twins born finishing each other's sentences? Was the same thought not already present in their minds before the useless repetition of it through (or by) the tongue?
  9. Silence is the only universal language, and nothing is lost in translation.

M. Ann Hull has had work published in 32 Poems, Barrow Street Journal, Mid-American Review, Passages North and Quarterly West amongst others. She has won the Ed Ochester Award for Poetry and the Academy of American Poets Prize. She is a former poetry editor of Black Warrior Review and holds an MFA from the University of Alabama. (mahull@bsu.edu)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761