Boy who can’t speak,
unable to send sounds from mind to mouth,
Boy, who sees the girl,
riding her bike with a white basket,
gliding downhill to her house,
red and blue streamers
dancing by her side;
where he so desperately wants to be,
if only he could
Boy, whose tongue is the ship’s plank,
where words walk to fall,
pushed from his mind,
sounds stumbling around
and around, jumbling syllables,
like the spaces
between his fingers
but he can’t extend his han--
Boy, who watches her fall,
sees streamers strangle in spokes,
he knew it would happen.
How many ways
did he think of telling her
she cut them too long?
Stones embed in her knees like
words embed in his tongue.
His voice is unwanted by the world.
Boy, who walks the
her falling is his fault.
Lamentations on Speech Therapy
I believe more in shattered letters
and broken voices than smooth starts
and silky lies like you’ll grow out of it.
Exhale slower, my therapist says. Weave
yourself into the sentence.
I deflate my puffed cheeks and fill
dry lungs with watered air.
My tongue stays plastered behind
coarse teeth, lips puckered
for a sentence I’ll never kiss.
My eyes drain as she finishes
my sentence for me.
I want to plant her voice in my palm,
listen to it sprout lettered leaves
and stems of unbroken sounds.
I could open my hand to speak
when harvest comes and stand
beneath the orange glow of the moon,
dig my voice from the muck and clay
of a stuck larynx, swallow
her fallen letters, and wait
for the roots to crackle through my chords.
About the author:
Troy Varvel holds an MA in English from Stephen F. Austin State University, where he currently teaches as an adjunct instructor. This is his first publication.