Learning to Sing with My Throat Shut

by Alexa Lemoine

i have a stubborn mouth & i
have never been able to make myself

listen; nevermind the discipline it takes to
beat something enough & say you’ve taught it well

the forest called for my echoes and i
obliged, the small and landlocked thing i am

naked in the clearing, tongue out & collecting
the dew that nestles behind my teeth

learning what full sounds like
trying to open the concrete wall

i call my throat to make a sound
just like that

my vocal chords instead
learned the art of making

animal noises, to call out in the night
for mothers who won’t hear me

& the flutter of dying light
caught between my hands

& what an ugly melody i can make
when i’ve got nowhere else to go

& the sting of overworked muscles
tearing to grow

& i’m  telling you there is more to
my voice than these wailing songs

how i trained myself to sing
a string of half thought apologies

how a certain type of purgatory
is still a house but even i have accepted

this mouth will never know
what home tastes like