So That I Don’t Fall Silent Once Again

I remember when she said
I didn’t talk.
She was there.
Right across the table.
Easily within the reach
Of my arms.
My hands.

I could have reached across
And touched her hand.
Her cheek.
I could have.
But I didn’t.

And then,
She was gone.
And I may never
Have that chance again.

A moment lost.

She wrote me
The next week.
And she said she couldn’t understand
Why I spoke so very little
When our families met
On that Mother’s Day.
That it frustrated her.
She’d come to speak with me.
And meet me.
And I’d sat across the table.
Out of her reach.

And I’d been damn near silent.

I have never found the words.
Never found a way.
To explain.
About that broken part
Of me.
That part that’s been broken
Almost all my days.
And remains broken
Even now.

The part of me
That just can’t speak.
That looks away.
And never seems to have
Anything to say.

It’s something that I’ve learned.
Through fear.
And through pain.
And through so many mistakes
That I lost count of them
More than 30 years ago.

I’ve learned
I always seem to say
The wrong thing.
In some way.
Even though I try
So very hard
To get it right.

Time and time again
I get corrected.
Even by people
Less than half my age.

I can explain to you
How computers work.
I can step you through
Fixing one
When something’s wrong.
I can show you how
To hunt down an error
In a program
I didn’t even write.

In what I do
In this life
I’m damn good.
I’m skilled.
And everyone that’s ever worked with me
Knows that.

But get me outside
Of something I can understand.
Something logical.
Something rational.
That I can analyze.
And understand.

And I’m just completely lost.

I have spent my life
Collecting up rules.
Of things to say.
And things to hide away.
Rules that tell me
When something I wish to say
Will disturb someone.
In some way.
Will hurt a friend.
Will bring anger
To the surface.
Or violate some sacred trust
That I don’t know about.

I try.
Oh, God.
I try.

I’ve lost count
Of the rules I’ve written.
Rules meant to help me
Get by.
In this world I never made.

And still.
Even now.
I make mistakes.
Every single day.
And say something.
Or do something.
Or write something.
That disturbs someone around me.
In some way.

And I get told
By so many people,
Time and time again.
That I can’t say things like that.
That I’ve done something wrong.
That no one knows
How I could have written
What I wrote.

Always
I have wondered
What it was
That I’ve done wrong.
Because I review
Every word I say.
Every word I write.
Checking each and ever word
Against the rules
That I’ve learned
Through the endless pain
Of mistake
After mistake
After mistake.

And the only answer
That I ever get
Has always been the same.

“You know you can’t do that.”

No.
I don’t.

This is why
I’ve gone silent.
Ever now and then.
Sometimes
For more than a decade.

Because I know this truth.
I’ve learned it
The hard way.
In this world
That I never made.

If I say nothing at all.
If I never say a thing.
I can’t say anything
Wrong.

That’s why one day
I chose “Silenced”
For my name.

And even now,
I fight that fear of pain.
That I’ve felt all my life.
So that I don’t fall silent
Once again.

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