“Prisoner of Words”

~Esther Mitchell, 2010~

You never told me that you loved me,
That you were proud of me just as I was,
That you believed in me, or even saw me.
For decades, the words lingered out of reach,
Locked behind the bars of your teeth,
Like a political dissident you didn’t dare let foul the air,
With feelings you could not embrace.
I grew up in sterile air,
Fed on nothingness and whispers of silence,
Breathing that which was not breathable.
I learned from the cradle,
To fear a god in which I did not believe,
That backs turn, and I am invisible,
When the words I have to speak,
Aren’t words you want to hear.
Now, I hear words I do not believe,
They fill my ears like the Dead Sea,
Buoyant, without substance, without life,
And yet, I drown where I should not even sink.
My lips feel wooden,
Around the words you expect in return.
I never learned to love you,
Because I never learned your love,
A wall of ice I cannot melt,
A broken trust too late to mend.
I’ve already extended the olive branch,
In trembling limbs reaching for the sun,
Only to shrivel up and retreat,
Against the chill of insincere platitude.
No, you never told me that you loved me,
And all the strength I’ve ever learned,
Came from another source,
And everything I’ve become,
Was made with my own two hands.

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