Seven years old,
on loan to an uncle
and a bundle of cash went missing.
For three days locked in a room, beaten.
The golden orbs of pennies roasted in an oven
removed by tongs
glisten on a child’s skin
as she screams and screams.
These round white scars
that remain even today
without the shadow of colour
with only the ash’s afterglow.
After telling that story
you burnt your hand on the iron,
burnt it yourself,
your punishment for breaking silence.
You rushed to the balcony but they pulled you back inside.
You wanted to spit, to scream insults at the soldiers
to stop them beating up the old man in the street.
“Listen,” she said as she held you back, your mother.
“Listen, you have to learn to say nothing.”
Learn to be nobody.
Learn to be the white wall
that has no face and no tongue.
Peter Boyle, "Education" text from The Blue Cloud of Crying, Hale and Ironmonger, 1997; audio from The Transformation Boat, Audio CD, River Road Press, 2008, by permission of River Road Press and the poet. Copyright © 1997, 2008 by Peter Boyle.
Source: The Transformation Boat
(River Road Press, 2008)