If you punctuate yourself as silence

Margaret Tait, Portrait of Ga, Film Still, 4’27”, 1952, Courtesy of the Margaret Tait estate and LUX, London

The bridge receives the water folding—waxing waning—in its toothless cavities. 
Growing up, we’d giggle at the misspelled words on shopping lists pinned on the fridge. The doubling letters consistently halved, like odd socks. Prosciuto. Mozarela. Fazoleti.
We’d tease, fluttering the loose pieces of paper in the air. How cool is that, a child can spell better than a grown up? These easy words. 
ttttttto. ozzzzza–elllllla. zzzzzo–ettttttti. 
Fierce sunlight. 

When I learn to write my mother’s tongue, I am told there is a letter you don’t pronounce—mischievous e with two dots on its head, condemned to silence. Every other vowel claims its place in the mouth there is no hiding I am told, no space for maternal silence.

Enact a dieresis (ë) between what’s spoken indoors and what’s current outdoors, yet remain porous. 

She cradles her hands with a half-smile
rugged reddened frayed. They make
a sound as they brush lightly
on one another, loose threads of loose clothes catching
along the cracks. No line I write makes it through
untranslated. No line she utters makes it round
untouched. Nothing the hands hold.

The comma-shaped figure almost encircles the canvas—its edge lined up with her shoulder and lower arm holding it open. Movement and corposità—corpo-reality. The canvas bulges and retreats, a bellowing sail. Darkness follows light, the turning of the plane of seeing. 

Imagine her prolonged stasis, modelling for herself in the double-mirror, in that tension, arm raised, bust rotated, angled forwards. Strung. By her wrist, agitating, pulling movement—the rounded gittata of an arch. 

In the arch, there is always a point of stillness that holds the whole structure together: a chiave di volta, what holds the opening and closing of the structure that turns around, holds beginning and ending within it, a key without which the balance would collapse. That stillness is the figure’s listening gaze—activating possibility in the instant of imagination glimpsed, letting your membrane self vibrate in response to another vibration, which means tuning, which means the opposite of imposing one’s gaze, which means being with. Ti sento—I hear and I feel you through the throbbing of my skin in the air next to yours, I a string. 

The schwa is the most common
vowel sound in the English
language. Lacking a single graphic
counterpart, it
swerves around in rhythm and
seism, in search of a curve a nerve a swivelling
verse. Writing
so, I punctuate myself as silenc(ë)
that operates as a listening.1

In the portrait of herself as Pittura, Artemisia Gentileschi chooses to stay on the edge, in the hesitancy, in the before, the just about, the I am before painting. Not say it. Sound the space of it, twist her body in the shaft of light.2

Tongues I can’t translate, speechlessness I can’t 
perforate enter words as material
interferences3 turning into 
versi lines of verse running away 
from me spilling
over the blank 
page I sense myself writing 
as indefinite and
unbound weight
.4 Versi of being as a punctuation a counter
point, a stress in the metre of a poetry, an opaque 
singularity undulating  
on a river.5 Writing a cry
to sound the depth of the well between, vers-ing 
to accommodate unfixed 
language, dislodge 
speechlessness as paralysis as what makes you
less than yourself and turn it 
outside of itself reverse

hold the spillage. 

What the hands hold.)

something has passed us and kept going.




  1. Anne Carson, Plainwater: Essays and Poetry (New York: Random House, 1995), p 94
  2. Self-portrait as the Allegory of Painting (La Pittura) Artemisia Gentileschi, c.1638-9, oil on canvas. London, Hampton Court Palace
  3. Daniela Cascella, Singed (London: Equus Press, 2017), p 146
  4. Daniela Cascella, Dionne Brand, The Blue Clerk: Ars Poetica in 59 Versos (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2018), p 174
  5. Édouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation (translated by Betsy Wing; Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1997)
  6. Anne Carson, ‘Moly: Variations on the Right to Remain Silent’, A Public Space, issue 07, 2008, p186