Words Don’t Defend Their Hives, A Poem by Chris Russell

Words stung

when they landed in my eye

or got caught in my throat.

They’d dangle there,

struggling to break free.

Then they’d tear themselves apart

trying to pull back off

into a familiar syntax.

Silence like this

isn’t interested in playing peekaboo,

come to find out,

isn’t game for coming to find you

hiding behind a tree

in the park.

Now, words,

instead of trying to make a nest

in my face

and read into my skin

a familiar sense of identity,

don’t defend their hives

the way they used to.

Which maybe just means

I’m not so storm-bent on being

the perfect version of me

the way I once was,

because I know that that me

speaks for itself

and always will.

That is, until someone notices me

walking around the block

and waves.

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