Her silence suggests the incurable,
a stutter at ten hurts,
fear of the sun, or some unnamed
malady. But we were wrong.
Behind her mother’s shoulder,
she whispers. When her mother moves away,
she disappears—a blade of grass,
a broken petal of a poppy
beneath a cat’s stride.
A year ago, her father died.
Aleyna never saw the blood
on his jeans, the twisted remnants
of his gray Toyota. She only listened
to the whispers, the low coughs of aunts.
Her mother only cried
if the bathroom door were locked,
and stifled the loudest
by running cold water.
His clothes were bundled for the poor,
some tossed into the sea
in a midnight ritual.
His razor blades, his toothbrush,
his deodorant and combs—
all went as Aleyna watched
from the hallway. Months passed;
the girl’s voice was February,
distant, a cold star, a ship
moored to a splintered dock.
What moved inside her
never came through her plum-colored
eyes; what rattled within
was no song anyone could sing:
the lyrics hard and tedious,
monotonous and true.