Un-learning Silence

Six years old — I am learning silence.

How to craft it from shaking fingertips,

how to stretch it across myself. I am trying to stop it from smothering

me. I am trying to hide in it.

This is what I was taught to do. Hide my body under layers and layers of insecurity;

do not be confident. Do not be loud. Do not speak the thoughts you hold in your heart,

and do not voice the opinions scattered in your brain.

Because this is the way we are raised.

Listen to deeper voices, leave your shrillness at the door. Called ‘bossy’, called ‘whore’, called insults that slash only at your femininity.

Learn to be quiet.

I am learning to love the sounds of equality,

of speaking louder in empty rooms.

Unlearning the silence we stitched into our seams is not easy;

Pulling apart the strands of identity that do not fit deeply. I touch my fingertips to cold glass, Collage by Phoebe Flatau and feel shards at my feet.

Finty Hunter is a first year English Literature student at Murray Edwards College. She has been published in Notes and Foyle Young Poets. ‘Un-Learning Silence’ was originally performed at a poetry event put on by Murray Edwards’ feminist society.