Why does a word feel so dirty
no matter how hard you scour
it clean? I speak in whispers, careful
to pronounce each syllable
without making a sound, afraid
that someone will hear me and give
me away. I watch myself in the mirror
as my mouth give shape to a word,
bring the mirror lower and watch
the word become a thing — behold
my most prized possession, my long-kept
shame. They say my worth
is measured by my purity. Keep it
out of men’s reach until I grow ripe
enough to be reaped by one.
I am a fruit that rots
when touched by different hands.
I become a woman
only when a man decides
to tie a leash around my neck. They say
my pleasure is not mine to own.
Only a man can ever touch
the thing between my legs, can ever
call it by its name,
guiltlessly consuming bodies
that are not his. I want
to learn a language where a word is not
a word made to sound
violent, where a word is not
a thing meant to be violated. I want
to learn to speak subtlety, the way I never
learned in any language I know now.
By Elizabeth Ruth Deyro
Elizabeth Ruth Deyro is a writer, poet, and editor from Laguna, Philippines. She is the Founding Editor-in-Chief of The Brown Orient and the Prose Editor of Rag Queen Periodical. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Hypertrophic Literary, The Poetry Annals, Jellyfish Review, and L’Ephemere Review, among other places, and has been profiled in Luna Luna Magazine and TERSE. Journal.