Breaking the Silence
by Barbara Ruth

Slowly, it begins
word by word.
If I’m lucky a few lines come at a time.
(Is this what it’s like
relearning to walk
after a long paralysis?)
It hurts,
feels awkward, unnatural,
reclaiming the label “writer”
as though I have 
forgotten my name
and only discover it
letter by painstaking letter.

Poems do not flow from me
as once they did.
Now I squeeze them,
bear down
birth them misshapen
a motley crew
in need of many revisions.

Slowly, it begins.
These strange children who appear
won’t even consent to be 
born in sequence.
They push, hang back,
vie with each other for the birth canal,
then stubbornly cling to the womb.
Shy, wild creatures,
they spill into each other,
even I am not sure 
who is who.

Slowly it begins:
this breaking the shell
of the silence
the shell which encased me
all of these months,
the shell cracking open
so slowly.
Barbara Ruth is a survivor of medical and sexual abuse as a child and adult and police brutality as an adult. She just turned 70 and celebrates her survival. Her prize-winning essay “Out of Luck” is included in the anthology “Biting the Bullet: Essays By Women Of Courage.” She is neurodivergent on three axes: epilepsy, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome, Highly Sensitive Person. Or…maybe those are one axis. She looks forward to a better way to describe all this.
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About barkingsycamores 183 Articles
Barking Sycamores is a literary journal entirely edited and operated by queer neurodivergent people of color. We publish poetry, artwork, short fiction (beginning with Issue 3), creative nonfiction (beginning with Issue 8), and hybrid genre work (beginning with Issue 9) by emerging and established neurodivergent writers as well as essays on neurodiversity and literature and book reviews (beginning with Issue 10).

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