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Jessica Ford

I am told that it is the way I speak, of course.  

Down to the molecule of every word  

and the sharp edges that have fine-tuned   

and carved my syllables.  

Similar to the biting edge of frost on a house gutter  

when the earth has grown too cold to hold water.  


It is the way I speak, of course.   

The inflection that would be no burden   

if a man were to hoist this voice   

upon his tongue.  

If a man were to carry this weight   

of inflection and diction.  

To him, it would be a strength.  

Oh, how he carries the weight so well.  


But I am crushed beneath the heave of my own voice.  


It is the way I speak, of course.   

How my tenderness and carefully chosen vocabulary   

which I have scoured over time   

and time again   

to force myself to memorize,  

every single word specifically picked out   

to ease the blow   

of how my tongue curls  

is overridden, trampled    

in the face and harsh contrast   

of the way I speak.  


And so I am told that my vocabulary—  

all my crafted words—   

do not matter in the face of my brutality.   

My ever-turning and ever-violent expression.  


I am told it cannot soften the strength   

with which  

I speak.   


It is down to my diction.   

It is in my inflection.   

It stays lodged in my lisp  

and every single breath I breathe   

that comes across as too strong.   



It is the way I speak, of course.   

And it would do me well  

to learn another way.  

Spring 2023

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