August 26, 2010

The weight of silence

divya rajan

Your scarf spoke nine tongues.
I failed to know the purpose, seek the language
of splinters, shards, lazy salsas.
I thought the skies bowed to you even
as they turned mauve. Awe
filled my lungs, I breathed.
Shards slow danced, I felt your smile.
It smelt of something else.
Your ducking shadows traded with liquid limelight.


“You were born to silence”, sang whispers
of the one who bore me for ten crescent milk moons.
And so I breathed in the silence
of the damp Oaxacan earth,
the silence of nopals, moriche, cacao fields,
the silence of achiotes as they painted my soul
and I yearned for harvest;
the silence by the creek
after cowbirds flocked to nests,
silence in the pauses of a distant merengue,
silence in the nook of an ancient
pottery tavern where gods were made
by hands.


I felt the cold of asbestos.
Much after, as I shuddered
on a sore bit of land
that reeked of sewage, puddles
of worm-infested waters
inching into my mouth, slower than a drip, I dreamt
of barbed wires, nine unspoken red fire fangs, fumes
from a neighbor maquiladora. I even dreamt
of the kneader I was meant to be. My heart
felt the weight of silence.


The above poem is an ekphrastic work inspired by artist Judithe Hernandez’s work titled, The Border, exhibited at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. More details about the Juarez- Chihuahua crisis can be viewed at The Juarez Project.

2 comments to The weight of silence

  • Bob Bradshaw

    HI Divya, congrats on a nice poem…hope to see more of your work soon….best, Bob

  • Dear Divya, Thank you so much for writing this incredible poem! Knowing that a work of mine inspired you is an extraordinary compliment. I am now in the process of preparing for my solo exhibition at the National Mexican Museum of Art which opens in December, 2010. After seeing your poem, I will be renaming a multiple-image piece that is currently in-progress. These pieces will be known as the “The Weight of Silence Suite”. Paz y Luz, Judithe Hernandez

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